Keene delivers key hit in Bulldogs' victory
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 4, 2008 2:01 AM
PRINCETON -- April Keene had a senior night to remember.
The lone fourth-year player on Princeton's softball team, Keene threw a shutout and cranked out the game-winning hit in a 3-0 victory over archrival Rosewood.
But Keene had another incentive.
Earlier Friday, she learned her grandfather passed away from an extended illness. Keene decided to play in honor of her biggest fan.
"He used to come watch me all the time, and I know that he would have wanted me to play," said Keene. "I wanted to go out and give my best for him."
Keene and Rosewood right-hander Haile Meadows locked horns in a pitcher's duel which lasted for five-plus scoreless innings. Keene scattered five hits before her final at-bat, while Meadows had permitted just three hits.
Bulldog catcher Tylan George started the game-winning rally with a lead-off walk. She moved into scoring position on Brittany Baker's single and Keene strolled to the batter's box.
The right-handed hitter worked Meadows into a deep count and finally got the pitch she wanted. She stroked a single to left center field to score George.
Rosewood's defense misplayed the ball and the go-ahead single turned into an extra-special moment. The lone runner on the basepath, Keene headed for third and saw head coach Terry Braswell waving her home. With a wide smile, she touched the plate and was greeted by a throng of delighted teammates.
"I was really nervous," said Keene. "I just wanted to get a hit, and when I saw that I might have the chance to score, I just ran as hard as I could."
The three-run inning spoiled another solid outing from Meadows, who allowed five hits and logged eight strikeouts in the book. Princeton (10-6) overall climbed to 7-2 in Class 1-A Carolina Conference play.
"We played pretty well tonight, even though we missed some chances early," said Braswell. "April was strong in the circle, and the defense did a great job. The thing we need to continue to work on most, is just hitting the ball.
"Some nights we hit everything, and other nights we can't score. We need to be more consistent at the plate."
The loss mathematically eliminated the Eagles (4-12, 3-6 CC) from the postseason.
"Our defense played so well tonight, and it seems like it always comes down to one play or one inning," said first-year RHS coach Tracey Meadows. "We have to be able to hit in order to keep up with teams, which we are getting better at, but we are not their yet."
"Caitlyn Armer crushed the ball a couple times tonight, and Jessica Price and Alyssa Spell each had some good hits and good at-bats. It seems like we're always just one big hit away."
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