ZACHARY – The Denham Springs Lady Jackets got a break-out offensive performance from a youngster and another dominating performance from Natalie Parker in the circle en route to a 9-0 District 4-5A win Thursday over Zachary.
Sophomore Alexis Richardson doubled and blasted her first career home run, while Parker struck out 10 and threw her third shutout in four days, upping her season total to seven.
Four of Denham Springs’ eight hits were for extra bases and they took advantage of three Zachary errors.
Richardson flirted with her first career homer in the top of the second inning. Batting with a runner at first and two outs, her drive to deep center hit the top of the fence and stayed in the park for an RBI-double and resulted in a 2-0 lead after two innings.
When Richardson batted in the sixth, she launched a shot to left field that left no doubt that it would be her first homer. The ball landed well beyond the wall for a two-run homer that gave the Lady Jackets an 8-0 lead.
According to DSHS coach Leslie Efferson-Yellot, the power display by Richardson was a meeting of hard work and potential.
“She’s got the fastest hands with a hitter that I’ve seen in a long time,” she said. “It was just a matter of her getting her timing. I knew once she made that adjustment good things would happen. She had that potential all the time.”
Richardson described her trip around the bases on her first career home run as “amazing” and cited a couple of mechanical changes that she had been practicing for making the big power day possible.
“Getting my foot down earlier has really helped, along with staying behind the ball because I tend to pull it early,” she said.
The Lady Jackets (9-2, 1-1) built a 5-0 lead with three runs in the third against the Lady Broncos (4-10, 1-2).
Rayne Minor tripled in one run with a hard-hit grounder that went through the infield and all the way to the fence. Charleigh Parolli drove Minor home with a single and Parolli scored later in the inning when she stole third base and advanced home on an errant throw.
Parolli was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored and Macie Langlois reached base three times for the Lady Jackets.
“I think we did a good job of capitalizing on every hit that we got,” said Efferson-Yellot. “Every bobble that they might have had, we took extra bases on it. We have been working on that...being aggressive on the bases. I have been trying to instill that in them to take extra bases. If we can take two, then why not take two?”
The big lead was more than enough for Parker, who baffled Bronco hitters all day with her changeup.
In three games this week, Parker has not allowed a run in 17 innings, striking out 28 and allowing only nine hits.
“She has worked so hard on that pitch and doubted it early this season,” Efferson-Yellot said. “In one of our earlier games, I called it literally 12 or 13 pitches in a row and she kept throwing it for balls. I told her ‘I am going to keep calling it because you have to have this pitch’. That pitch is the difference between seven or eight wins for us this year.”
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