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Offense, pitching follow plan, power Polk County softball past Tuscola

Two games into the 2015 season, Polk County’s softball fortunes are going largely as Jeff Wilson hoped.

The Wolverines romped Monday to an 8-3 win over Tuscola, improving their record to 2-0 at the expense of the visiting Mountaineers. The game served as a microcosm, in many ways, of what Wilson hopes to see from the Wolverines this season:

– Senior leadership. Polk County has four seniors – Ashley Kropp, Alexis McCraw, Maddy Foy and Kassidy Reynolds. Kropp, McCraw and Foy teamed for five hits and three RBI. Reynolds provided solid defense in left field.

РRobust hitting. Wilson continues to tinker with his lineup and batted freshman Haley Fowler and Autumn Owen 1-2 on Monday. Fowler had a pair of hits and drove in a run. Owen had key at-bats in the first and sixth innings, including a double in the latter frame. Another freshman, Maranda Gosnell, had two hits and an RBI. Junior Hayley Kropp led the offense with three doubles and three RBI.

– Plenty of pitching. Sophomore Ashley Scruggs scattered six hits, with a Tuscola lineup heavy of lefthanders scoring all of its runs on home runs in the third and fourth innings, and struck out six in the win.

All of which left Wilson pleased with the effort.

“We wanted to take off and have a good finish. That was our focus and our point of emphasis,” Wilson said.

Wilson emphasized the message prior to the game – “I was pumped up,” he said – and Polk County responded. Hayley Kropp’s one-out double drove home Fowler, who singled to open the bottom of the first, before Ashley Kropp and Scruggs drew walks to load the bases. Gosnell followed with an run-scoring single before McCraw drove home two runs with a base hit to make it 4-0.

Allison Plafcan hammered a two-run homer in the top of the third to trim the margin in half, but the Wolverines upped the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the third as Gosnell, McCraw and Foy singled to load the bases before, one out later, Fowler’s infield grounder pushed one run home.

Another Mountaineer home made it 5-3 before Polk exploded for three runs in the sixth to seal the game. Fowler singled to open the inning, followed by Owen’s double and then a two-run double by Hayley Kropp. Ashley Kropp’s RBI single closed the scoring.

“I thought we swung the bats pretty good all the way through the lineup,” Wilson said. “A time or two I had to go against what I believe and didn’t bunt when we had a runner on first and let the hitters hit, and they came through every time. Hayley Kropp and Ashley Kropp hit the ball really hard. I’m proud of them.

“I thought Ashley Scruggs controlled the ball and worked both sides of the play well. They had a ton of lefthanders, but she moved the ball in and out really well.”

Polk County is scheduled to be back in action Wednesday, hosting Asheville Trailblazers at 4 p.m.

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