Helias softball falls late against Kirksville

Everything was going their way.

After four Helias batters Tuesday night, the Lady Crusaders held a 4-0 lead against the Kirksville Lady Tigers at Duensing Field. And Paige Bange, in her first varsity start as a pitcher, took a perfect game into the fifth inning and had a one-hitter and a 6-0 Lady Crusader advantage heading into the sixth.

Momentum then swung so hard it came out of its shoes.

The Lady Tigers turned four singles, four Lady Crusader infield errors, a walk and a wild pitch into seven runs on their way to an 8-6 victory.

“Paige pitched very well, well enough to win,” Helias coach Dan Campbell said. “And we scored enough to win, I was comfortable with six runs, if we play any defense at all.

“I guess we got what we deserved.”

The first two Lady Tigers reached on errors to open the floodgates in the tell-tale sixth.

“I think we were on our heels big-time, especially on the infield,” Campbell said. “It just snowballed. We gave them at least six or seven outs.”

The Lady Crusaders had a chance to tie it or even regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth.

Kaylie LeCuru hit a one-out single before moving to second on a two-out walk to Julie Harris. Bange then hit a long fly to center field that Kirksville outfielder Christy Tucker hauled in before tumbling over the temporary fence.

Kirksville (16-5) added an insurance run in the top of the seventh and ended the game by setting down Helias in order in the bottom of the inning to end it.

After Monday night’s loss to Rock Bridge, Campbell talked about his team needing to catch a break or two. They got a couple of them in the bottom of the first.

Lauren Morrow led off with a long fly to right. The Kirksville outfielder took a couple of steps in, then broke back, but had the ball tip off the top of her glove as Morrow pulled into second base.

Harris then hit an infield single to put runners at the corners and Bange coming to the plate. A missed sign worked to Helias’ advantage as Bange laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases.

“Paige is a great bunter, so it worked, but we’re not going to bunt in that situation with our No. 3 hitter,” Campbell said.

On the very next pitch, Peyton Hall belted a grand slam over the fence in dead center and it was 4-0.

The Lady Crusaders added two runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Julie Harris and on a wild pitch.

Bange went the distance in the circle, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out one.

“We’re going to get her some more work and hopefully support her a little better,” Campbell said. “We didn’t make plays, the routine ones, the ones that we stress making in practice every day and we have to get it corrected.”

The Lady Crusaders (6-17) don’t have a lot of time to do that. Helias will play Thursday at Eldon before wrapping up the regular season Saturday with three games in the Catholic Classic at Binder Park.

In Tuesday’s JV game, Kirksville edged Helias 6-5.

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