Madison offense powers Patriots past Polk in conference opener

Polk County's Hannah Emory drives a pitch into right field for a base hit during Friday's 6-1 loss to Madison.

The last five meetings between Madison and Polk County’s softball squads ended in one-run decisions.

Friday’s first encounter of the 2017 season between the two Western Highlands Conference rivals, though, did not prove to be another nailbiter – much to Polk County’s dismay.

Madison pounded out 13 hits and kept Polk County from getting the key hit it needed at crucial times en route to a 6-1 conference victory on a chilly, windy afternoon at Polk.

The Patriots (5-0, 1-0) scored two runs in the top of the first on Savannah Rice’s single and never trailed thereafter. Madison added a run in the third on a Hannah Jennings single and then three more runs in the top of the fourth to build a 6-0 lead.

The Wolverines finally broke through in the fifth inning against Rice, a sophomore who has already verbally committed to Western Carolina. Hannah Emory dropped a leadoff single into right field, substitute runner Tana Harris stole second and moved to third with two outs before Maranda Gosnell crushed a Rice pitch to deep left-center, driving in Harris.

But that would be the only run for the Wolverines (1-2, 0-1), who left nine runners on base, three of them at third, during the game.

Haley Fowler finished 2-for-4 to lead Polk County, with Gosnell going 1-for-3, Karli Wood 1-for-2 and Emory finishing 1-for-1 with two walks.

Rice allowed four hits and struck out five in six innings of work and finished 3-for-5 at the plate to lead Madison. Jennings was 4-for-5 and Brooke Vilcinskas was 3-for-4 as the trio accounted for 10 of Madison’s 13 hits.

Polk County is slated to travel on Monday to Mountain Heritage for another WHC matchup, weather permitting.