- Cullman, Alabama

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April 8, 2013

CULLMAN COUNTY SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT (DAY 1): Raiders continue hot streak with 8-0 win over defending-champion Broncos

VINEMONT — For as well as Good Hope’s softball team has played over the last two seasons, it’s come up just short in each of its past two county tournament championship games.

The rub? Holly Pond.

The Raiders took a positive step in correcting that problem on Tuesday, shutting down the Broncos 8-0 and advancing to the semifinals of the Cullman County Softball Tournament.

“It was a good win for us,” coach Wayne Harris said. “The kids really wanted this game because of the past two years. They were enthused, focused and probably the sharpest they’ve looked all season.”

The victory improved No. 4 Good Hope’s record to 23-5 overall, including a 15-game winning streak where the Raiders have pitched an impressive 13 shutouts.

After tossing a perfect game in the first outing of the day, Cara Goodwin followed her performance with another beauty.

The UAB signee allowed just two hits in seven innings of work, while striking out 13 batters and walking two.

“Cara pitched a good game against a pretty good lineup,” Harris said of his ace. “Once we put some runs on the board, she relaxed a little bit and got even better.”

Alannah Henke got the scoring started for the Red and White in the third inning, tripling home Bailie Andrews — who singled to lead off the frame — to give Good Hope a 1-0 advantage.

After a Darcie Wilson walk, Maegan Sterling knocked in Henke with a bunt single to extend the lead to two.

It was more than enough for Goodwin, who struck out three in the second inning, two in the third and two in the fourth to keep the Bronco offense at bay.

“It doesn’t really matter who we play, we’ve got to hit the ball,” Holly Pond coach Steve Miller said. “When you get behind to a pitcher like her (Goodwin), hitters think they need to do a little too much at the plate and they start pressing.”

The Raiders broke out in the fifth inning, taking advantage of some Holly Pond defensive miscues and scoring six runs on RBI doubles from Kayla Tillman, Andrews and Henke. Darby Randolph helped the cause as well, driving in Savannah Fendley on a groundout.

“Hitting is contagious,” Harris said. “We have 10 girls, and they feed off each other, whether it’s on offense or defense. We put a lot of balls in play today.”

Henke finished with three hits in the game, while Tillman and Andrews collected two knocks apiece. Fendley and Sterling were good for one as well.

Kolby Holcombe and Sami Hinds racked up the only two hits of the game for the Broncos. Emma Thompson struck out two.

Vinemont and Cold Springs’ second-round contest was in progess at presstime.

The Raiders will take on the winner of that game today at 3 p.m. with a trip to the title game on the line.

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