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Kelland recovers as Hawks take care of Criminals
Short-term memory loss isn't something most teenagers should want to have, but it's a quality that makes Gila Ridge starting pitcher Nikki Kelland lethal.
Kelland cruised through five innings relatively unscathed by the Yuma High offense, but after getting lit up for five runs in the sixth, Kelland marched back out to the circle and put down the Criminals in order to seal the 8-5 Hawk victory.
“I just pitched my spots, I knew I could do it,” Kelland said. “You have to shake it off. If you keep it in the back of your head the same thing is going to happen the next time.”
The ability to hit that mental reset button is something Gila Ridge coach Jaime McGalliard works on with her players.
“We spend a lot of time working on mental training,” McGalliard said. “We talk a lot about controlling the controllables. The only thing you can control is the pitch, right now. Everything that's happened before is completely irrelevant. That's what we talk to the kids about, we're one pitch at a time. She had a rough inning and she trotted right back out there and was ready to rock.”
Gila Ridge's offense jumped out to a one-run lead in the first inning on an RBI single from Kaelin Fox, then added two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. Bad hops plagued both teams throughout the game, but the Hawks followed Yuma High's misfortune by racking up 12 hits.
“We're a little streaky right now but we came through with some big base hits,” McGalliard said. “I thought those two-out base hits were set up by hustle plays. Make them make a play on you and let somebody behind you come up with the big hit.”
After five and a half innings Gila Ridge was on top 8-0. The Criminals scratched across a run on an RBI ground out. A few RBI singles later, Britteny Ramos came to the plate with two outs and two on and blasted a three-run home run that made it an 8-5 ball game.
“I thought that ball might have hit my car,” Yuma High coach Liz Huyck said. “She really hit a shot and sparked us. The energy level rose, and it was a good turn around for us.”
Yuma High pitcher Lezlie Morris, who relieved Bri Stephens in the fourth inning, came out and held the Hawks in check in the seventh, but the Criminal's couldn't put any more offense together in the bottom half of the inning.
“I just think we've got to get up to bat each and every time with the attitude of execution,” Huyck said about her offense that stranded nine base runners. “There were some times at the plate where we failed to execute. It was disappointing that we stranded that many, but it is a mental game. It really is. But we'll bounce back, we'll be OK.”
It was Stephen's first game back since her shoulder injury against San Luis a few weeks ago. Stephens gave up four runs on six hits in three innings.
“I thought she did OK,” Huyck said. “I wanted to start with her because I knew it'd be easier if she didn't have it we could come back with Lezlie. She's a little rusty, she took two weeks off and literally didn't do anything for two weeks.”
Gila Ridge's next game is at 4 p.m. Thursday at Kofa, while Yuma High hosts a 4 p.m. Tuesday match up against Cibola.