BELTON — Belton coach Matt Blackburn was yelling for Bethany Edwards to just sit down.
The Belton catcher had just uncorked a line drive to the left field wall for her third hit of the night and was rounding second base on her way to third when she got caught in a rundown.
But Blackburn wanted her to sit because the rundown didn’t matter, nor did the fact that she eventually got a safe call sliding into third base. Her drive to the wall came with the Lady Tigers up by nine runs with two runners on in the bottom of the fifth. So when the first of those two runners, Miranda Davila, crossed the plate the game was over and the fact that Avery Drake also crossed the plate and Edwards slid into third were both meaningless as Belton topped Ellison 10-0 in a five-inning run rule game on Tuesday night.
“It feels good,” Edwards said. “I was looking for something belt-high that I can get a line drive to get through. We had two runners on and just needed one. Anything to get one in.”
The win keeps the Lady Tigers (16-4, 6-0) in control of the District 8-6A standings. A spot they know is an ideal finish to get to the ultimate goal of a state championship.
“We know the first-place seeding in playoffs is the best route,” Blackburn said. “If you do that, the table is set for a decent playoff run, but you still have to take care of business. That’s easier said than done, especially in Region 1. I expect the state champ to come from Region 1.”
To achieve that goal, the Lady Tigers know they can’t afford to slip up against teams like Ellison (6-6, 2-4), which is fighting to stay in the playoff chase. So the Lady Tigers made some noise early, with the first four batters all reaching base, allowing the Lady Tigers to score five runs, highlighted by a two-run single by Ryleigh Jarvis, in the opening frame.
“That makes it hard to come back,” Ellison coach Brian Cotton said. “You dig yourself in a hole and you spend a lot of energy trying to get out of it. They were just better than us tonight.”
Belton added two runs apiece in the second and third innings before Edwards ended it in the fifth.
The inning started with Davila reaching on a dropped throw by Ellison first baseman, Tori Urbas. Drake followed with a single up the middle and Madison Bartlett then fouled out to bring up Edwards, who ended the contest.
“They are solid,” Cotton said. “They had two good pitchers who kept us off balance, good defense and they were hitting the crap out of the ball. We finally got some hits off their second pitcher, but we can’t take that long to get warmed up.”
Madison Cotton started for the Tigers, and allowed one hit and one walk in three innings. Taylor Tubbs came on in the fourth and allowed a walk in that inning before giving up two hits in the fifth, which gave Ellison runners at second and third with just one out. But back-to-back weak groundouts ended the threat.
“The pitchers did a good job,” Blackburn said. “We gave up that one hard hit, but they minimized the damage even when we got into jams.”