Softball: Rebels tee off on Tigers

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JAY — With one mighty rip, Lyndsay Merrill’s first swing of the game was a forecast of things to come Tuesday.

The Telstar junior led-off  with a solo home run.  That was the spark the Rebels wanted. The battle of unbeaten against Jay quickly turned from an expected nail-biter to a rout.

“I’ve kind of been in a hitting slump lately,” said Merrill. “I saw the pitch coming. I knew there were two strikes and that I had to protect somehow. So I just took a hard swing at it.”

Her solo home run over the left-field fence ignited a six-run first inning for the unbeaten Rebels. Telstar never looked back in a convincing 12-0 win over the Tigers.

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“We had said that we wanted to jump on them first,” said Kayla Merrill, a senior pitcher. “She did that for us and got us all excited. We all got up and were in it and ready to go.”

The Rebels sent 11 batters to the plate in the first and cranked out seven hits. Merrill ended up driving in three runs with two hits in the first alone.

“It’s a good way to pump us up,” said Lyndsay Merrill. “We knew there was a possibility that we might lose. I led off like that and got a home run. I think that pumped everyone up and got everybody ready.”

Lyndsay Merrill finished with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Nicena Walker also had three hits and drove in a run. Hannah Morin drove in three with a hit while Kayla Merrill, Katie Sumner, Tasha Farnum and Autumn Berry each had two hits for the defending Class C state champs.

“This is probably our best game of the year as far as everything goes,” said Telstar coach Jim Lunney, whose team has moved into the top spot in Western C. “We hit well and we got Kayla pitching well. I was very pleased today. We made some plays in the field.”

Kayla Merrill scattered four hits and struck out eight. She was helped in the field by some solid plays by Sumner at third, Berry at short and Lyndsay Merrill behind the plate.

Paula Despres had two of the Tiger hits. Brittany DiPompo and Lexi Deering had the other hits. Jay was ranked second in Western C in the latest standings.

“She hit her spots,” said Lunney. “She made big pitches and the defense stepped up behind her.

Lyndsay Merrill was moved to the leadoff spot this week  after batting third. In addition to her solo home run, she singled in a pair late in the first to make it 6-0.

“She had been in a little bit of a funk and had been batting third,” said Lunney. “She had a home run at Mt. Abram and two other hits. Today, she just drove that first one. That’s been a good switch.”

Morin added a two-run double in the first and Farnum singled in a run.

“When Lyndsay hit that one over the fence, it got us all ready to go and not so worried about the score anymore,” said Walker.

It not only allowed the Rebels to relax a little, it put Kayla Merrill in control on the mound. Jay (5-1) could only muster single hits in four different innings.

“I love pitching with big leads,” said Kayla Merrill. “Having that big of a lead just really put me in a good comfort zone. It let me throw what I wanted to and where I wanted to.”

Telstar (7-0) made it 7-0 in the fourth when Berry singled in a run. Then the Rebels added five more in the seventh. Victoria Forkus scored on a wild pitch. Kayla Merrill doubled in a pair. Walker and Morin then followed with an RBI.

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