The Helias Lady Crusaders were able to jump on Jefferson City Lady Jays freshman pitcher Allison Carwile with 12 runs in the first two innings.
That start, combined with dominance from Helias pitchers Mallorey Rogers and Molly Berkey, was enough for a 12-1 win in five innings Wednesday against Jefferson City at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.
Rogers had six strikeouts in four innings while giving up only one run, having little trouble against the Lady Jays lineup. Kaylee Redcay's double in the second was the only extra-base hit for Jefferson City.
"If she's in the zone and changing speeds and she has her spins working pretty well, she's going to be tough," Helias coach Kelly Fick said. "When she's attacking the zone, then she's pretty tough, and for the most part that's what we got tonight."
Berkey came in for the fifth with a strikeout and a hit batter being the only baserunner in the final inning. She started the day in right field and got Helias off and running with a flare to right with two outs that dropped just between the second baseman and the outfielder.
The Lady Crusaders used their speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths to clear the bases to open the scoring, while Berkey ended up on second after the throw home.
"That was just a really well-placed ball," Jefferson City coach Zac Miller said. "She couldn't have thrown it any better."
Helias' baserunning was an issue for Jefferson City, which would often have late throws or ones sailing by bases trying to catch runners who would try to take an extra base.
"If I'm playing someone that's not really experienced, then I'm going to put some pressure on them and try to make them throw the ball around, and that's what they made us do," Miller said. "That's one of the things that we've got to be able to learn and figure out that starts with being able to catch."
A single by Karoline Klebba scored Berkey to give the Lady Crusaders four runs in the opening frame, but Ella Meyer opened a bigger inning the next time out with a fly ball that sailed over the right fielder and tucked into the corner for a two-run inside-the-park home run. A couple of errors and a streak of four straight runners reaching base gave Helias an eight-run second inning.
Carwile struggled again but settled down after the first two innings to end her four-inning outing with two scoreless innings. She got a strikeout to strand a runner on third base in the third inning, and an unassisted double play by Reagan Nevis helped get the Lady Jays out of a jam in the fourth.
With some younger players getting experience, the aggressiveness that worked early bit Helias a couple of times late, with Nevis tagging a runner trying to take third on an infield fly ball to end the fourth.
"We preach aggressiveness on the bases all the time but having a little situational awareness there as we got into the last couple innings would have been beneficial for us because we can always reign back on the aggressiveness," Fick said. "Like I told them, I appreciate the aggressiveness because that's how I want them to play, but mentally we still need to be locked in and understand game situations."
The 12 runs in the first two frames were more than enough for the run-rule win, with the Jefferson City lineup struggling against Helias' pitchers. The Lady Jays had only one run off a Lyndsie Albright RBI single in the fourth.
Jefferson CIty had trouble against Rogers, who froze batters multiple times with her changeup.
"The idea of a pitcher is to disrupt the hitter's timing," Miller said. "Whenever you are throwing the fastball and the changeup real well, then it keeps you off balance and that's a pitcher's job. She did a good job of doing that tonight."
Helias (4-2-1, 1-0 CMAC) returns to action Saturday with a doubleheader at the Legion Complex. The Lady Crusaders face Cape Girardeau: Notre Dame at 11 a.m., followed by a matchup against Jackson at 1 p.m.
Jefferson City (0-7, 0-1 CMAC) hosts Capital City at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Vogel Field.