MacArthur’s Jeslyn Hanza is safe at second with a stolen base during Thursday’s intra-city matchup against Eisenhower. Ike’s Mikaela Hall takes the throw, but it was too late to nail Hanza. The Highlanders had little trouble taking the win, coasting to a 10-0 victory in only five innings.
It was just one of those special days for Kennedy Fisher, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The sophomore got MacArthur going at the plate, going 4-for-4 with 5 RBI, including a three-run home run in the fifth inning that lifted the Lady Highlanders to a 10-0 win over city rival Eisenhower at the Mac diamond on Thursday night.
With the Lady Highlanders holding a 5-0 lead, Jeslyn Hanza and Brailee Rooks hit back-to-back singles to set things up for Fisher, and she didn’t disappoint. Ike pitcher Isabelle Leger left her pitch high and down the middle, and Fisher took advantage, blasting the errant ball over the left-field fence.
“I felt really confident, and I just had a lot of energy,” Fisher said. “I was really happy because I had a lot of flow going.”
Mac coach Jared Lowmiller said he wasn’t surprised in the slightest by Fisher’s performance.
“She’s been one of our two that’s been really hot,” Lowmiller said. “She started cleanup for us, and we moved her up to 2-hole recently. We had three starters out for various reasons, and she’s been giving us good at-bats pretty much every time. She’s normally one of the most consistent by staying focused and locked in. She’s been smoking the ball that hard all year long, so it’s about time she got one to carry out.”
Leger’s troubles were far from over, though.
Mac’s ace pitcher, Logan Smith, hit a solo homer to the same spot on the next at-bat, leaving the Lady Highlanders only one run away from a run-rule victory. Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long to tack it on.
Emilie Smith’s trip to the plate bore similar fruit, for she launched a solo homer of her own — also to left field — giving Mac its fifth win of the season.
The Lady Highlanders are now 5-4 overall and 2-1 in district play.
Fisher said watching her teammates feed off her energy provided her an ecstatic feeling.
“I was excited, and everybody was in a good groove,” Fisher said. “It was definitely a breakout performance for me. I’ve had a decent season, but it’s kind of been on-and-off. It felt really good to actually start hitting well.”
After Fisher’s home run, Lowmiller said he had a feeling Logan and Emilie Smith would follow suit.
“Logan told me coming around third that she knew she was going to hit hers, and when Emilie went up there, I told her to do it, too,” Lowmiller said. “I told her every swing she takes could put one over and win the game, and she went up there and put a good swing on one.
“We’ve been struggling offensively for pretty much all season and leaving a bunch of runners on. Logan and Emilie have been struggling a little bit confidence wise, and they were able to wait on one and drive it and keep that momentum going. Hopefully they’ll carry it over into future games.”
Lauryn Taylor also had an impressive game at-bat, reaching base on two of three occasions with 3 RBI, two of which came on a double in the fourth inning. Hanza finished with multiple hits as well, finishing 2-for-2 with a walk.
Ike had several chances to keep the game close, but every opportunity came up empty. The Lady Eagles stranded seven batters, with four reaching second base or beyond.
With Ike trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Mikaela Hall gave her team a chance to come within striking distance with a deep ball to left field. It looked as if she would come away with an inside-the-park home run when two Mac outfielders collided when trying to catch the ball, but after some hesitation, the umpire ruled the blunder a catch.
Ike coach Terry Brierton saw the sequence play out differently, but he said he understands decisions like that are a part of the game.
“It hit the ground,” Brierton said. “It was between them, but that’s almost an impossible call for an umpire that far back to make. That umpire has to run all the way out there, and even if you do, it’s all about angles. It’s just a bad-luck ball on our part.
“We let it get away, and when you leave a good team around, it’s a different ballgame. If we get a couple of hits, it’s a different game and your energy level is a little different.”
Logan Smith, a senior, recorded the win in the circle for Mac, pitching a shutout with six strikeouts while allowing only three hits and four walks.
“For the most part, that’s been Logan all year,” Lowmiller said. “She’s had to work a little harder than I think she’s needed to, but for the most part, she’s done a good job when runners get on — she buckles down. She hasn’t had too many innings where she’s given up more than one run, so when she does that, she gives us a chance to compete.”
For Ike, which now sports a 3-7 record overall and winless in district, Brierton said it all comes down to seasoning the inexperienced players, especially on defense. To go along with the 10 surrendered hits and six walks, the Lady Eagles committed four errors, all of which directly resulted in runs for the Lady Highlanders.
“We can’t catch a fly ball right now, and that’s really a bad deal,” Brierton said. “We’ve got some who can make a catch, but we’re not making excuses. Our defense was playing well for a little while, but we’re young. We’re starting four or five freshmen, and we only play two seniors out there. Next year we’ll get better, but I’m not giving up this year. If we can figure this stuff out, we’ll be competitive.
"It’s a marathon. We still have 30 more games to go — I think we play 36 games this year.”
Ike has a chance to redeem itself, though, beginning with the Putnam City North Festival today and Frederick Festival on Saturday. Meanwhile, Mac returns to the diamond for a road contest against Duncan at 5 p.m. on Monday.