WARDSVILLE, Mo. - Blair Oaks coach Sharon Buschjost stuck hot-hitting catcher Taylor Markway in the leadoff spot, and it paid off for the Lady Falcons on Thursday as they beat Eldon 13-0 in five innings.
Markway reached base in all four at-bats, scoring twice and driving in five for Blair Oaks.
"I've been kind of looking at that leadoff spot," Buschjost said. "Taylor is just one of those hitters that, when you think about a leadoff batter, the only thing Taylor wouldn't see at the leadoff spot is a lot of pitches. When she sees one she likes early, she's swinging. But in terms of contact, on-base (percentage), she's that kind of hitter."
Markway, who went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice in her last game, said the coach didn't tell her she'd be leading off until the night of the game.
"She told me, but I was ready for it," she said.
The Lady Falcons notched 13 hits and four walks in their four trips to the plate.
"A game like this, you hope to see some of the hitting get contagious and see hits all the way up and down the lineup, and I kind of felt like that's what started (Thursday), and hopefully that carries over to (today)," Buschjost said.
The win brought Blair Oaks to 3-0 on the season and put Eldon at 3-6 after a 2-0 start.
"Anytime you come out and play Blair Oaks, we know as a group, they're a good-hitting team," Eldon coach Dusty Purnell said. "They're going to be fundamentally sound all the way around. We got in a bad situation late there in fourth inning, got the bases loaded, couldn't get an out to get going, and they put quite a few runs on the board there late."
The Lady Mustangs put a runner on base every inning but failed to push any across home plate.
"When you get a runner on, you want to try to bring them around as many times as you can," Purnell said. "We missed a couple signs and then didn't put the ball in play like we have been lately. When you play a team like this, you have to score as many times as you can any time you get an opportunity."
It was the second straight start for Blair Oaks' Taylor Gehlert (2-0) in which the opponent reached base every inning, and in all but one of those innings, she has prevented the opposing team from scoring.
"She seemed to be guiding it a bit, and before we could even talk to her when she came in, she was already telling us, "I know I'm guiding it,'" Buschjost said. "She acknowledged it, and we were like, "Yeah. Let it fly.' And I think as the game went on, she seemed to get a little bit better."
The Lady Falcons have only allowed one run in their three games.
"I hope after three games that our pitchers are certainly confident with what they've seen in terms of our whole team defense," Buschjost said. "They don't have to feel as though they can't let a runner on, because I think we have backed up our play with good team defense.
"So they have to be confident with that and willing to challenge hitters a little more and let them put the ball in play and see what happens."
Buschjost said it was unusual for her team to have played just three games this far into the season. Many of their opponents have competed in tournaments, such as Eldon, who playedover the weekend at the Battle Tournament.
"I'm used to when that first game starts, it's full speed ahead, but this year, it's just been a little bit slower pace," Buschjost said. "It's been nice in terms of a little bit more time at home, as far as the evenings, but it will soon get busy."
The game started with a hit-by-pitch on the first pitch to Eldon leadoff hitter Taylor Pehle. Blair Oaks also began its first trip to the plate with a hit batsmen, as Markway was plunked with the second pitch from Brooklyn Bledsoe. Courtesy runner Emily Jones stole second and advanced on Lauren Viessman's single. She scored on a wild pitch, and Payton Staggs' sacrifice drove in Viessman.
In the second, Karlie Reinkemeyer led off with a single, and Markway singled her in after Mackinnley Hamacher hit a single of her own. Viessman added another single, driving in Hamacher and Jones and reaching third on an error by the right fielder.
Staggs and first baseman Ashley Forck led off the third with back-to-back doubles, and Forck scored when Markway's two-out grounder was dropped by the first baseman on the relay.
The Lady Falcons kept things going by batting around in the fourth. Jolie Duffner and Forck started it off with walks, Reinkemeyer and Carli Buschjost hit RBI singles. Forck was caught at home on a fielder's choice off the bat of Hamacher, but centerfielder Lindsey Kolb hit an RBI single past a short infield. Then Markway hit a bases-clearing double but was caught trying to stretch it into a triple. Viessman hit a single, the ninth straight batter to reach base.
"We have good hitters from top to bottom," Markway said. "It's nice."
The closest Eldon came to scoring was in the fifth, but Trava Hankey was caught off the bag after she hit a double and stole third.
Gehlert pitched all five innings for Blair Oaks, allowing five hits, walking two and hitting two batters. Bledsoe pitched 3 1/3 for the Lady Mustangs before being replaced by Madisyn Hollenbeck.
Eldon had four errors in the game and two wild pitches.
"We've been playing pretty inconsistently these last six games," Purnell said. "After we came out and had three pretty solid games to start the season, now to kind of fall back on some older habits is very disheartening, very disappointing."
The junior varsity team also beat Eldon, 4-1, to improve its record to 3-2. Jones and Torie Thurston each went 2-for-2. Thurston had an RBI. Megan Mitchem was the winning pitcher of the three-inning game.
Blair Oaks hosts Fatima at 4 p.m. today.