They may have only been two outs in a six-run victory, but to Parkview Baptist freshman pitcher Taylor Spencer, they represented so much more.
By retiring St. Thomas More catcher Bailey Hemphill, an Alabama signee, in the first and sixth innings, the instances morphed into confidence-building moments that lifted Spencer to a complete-game outing and Parkview to an 8-2 victory Monday.
“The first inning when we got her out, that was all I needed,” Spencer said. “I thought if I could get her out, I was going to be OK.”
Parkview coach Ashlee Weems said the decision to pitch to Hemphill, a preseason first-team All-American, three times in four plate appearances was calculated.
Spencer got Hemphill to ground out sharply to third baseman Hannah Fontenot in the first inning and fly out to center fielder Ann Marie Peavy in the sixth.
The Lady Eagles elected to pitch around Hemphill in the third, loading the bases on a four-pitch walk, with Spencer recovering with a liner off the bat of Courtney Bourque for the final out.
“There may be a time when the game’s on the line, and you’ve got to pitch to the other team’s best hitter,” Weems said. “We wanted to challenge Hemphill if it wasn’t going to cost us the game at that point. We wanted to see if our pitcher’s confident enough, which she was. She pitched well, and I’m proud of her.”
Spencer didn’t allow her first hit until the third and surrendered only a pair of hits through six innings.
By that time, Spencer was backed by an 8-0 lead courtesy of an offensive surge that resulted in 12 hits, including three for extra bases.
LSU signee Nicky Dawson was 3-for-3 with a double, a stolen base and three RBIs. Designated hitter Anna Bordelon also had three hits and drove in a run, while second baseman Lexie Dautel (2-for-3) and ninth-place hitter Nicole Simmons (1-for-2) each drove in a pair of runs.
“It’s good to see because last year at times we struggled a bit here and there,” Weems said. “One through nine, I hope it continues.”
Parkview started fast with two runs in the first and extended its lead to 5-0 with three runs on four hits in the fourth against losing pitcher Whitney Romero.
Dautel drove in a run and Simmons slapped a two-run single up the middle to highlight the fourth that only got better with three more runs in the sixth on three hits and an error.
Dautel’s double resulted in a run and Dawson, with the bases loaded, drove in Dautel and Kaytlin Gill with a two-run single to right.
Spencer yielded five of her seven hits in the seventh inning when Hemphill spoiled the shutout with a two-run double that caromed off the third-base bag and into left.
“When you’ve got an eight-run lead, it’s easier,” said Spencer, who struck out seven and walked two. “If you give up two runs, it’s not as big of a deal.”