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Garden Spot muscles past Twin Valley in district opener

NEW HOLLAND — It seems that both bad and good things—but mostly the latter—do, in fact, come in threes.

In a game featuring more triples than a Preakness betting line, a trio of Garden Spot batters drove home three runs apiece as the Spartans blew past the Twin Valley Raiders 12-5 Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the District 3 AAA playoffs.

“No matter how many runs a team scores versus another team, even if we’re above, I get so nervous for the whole thing until it’s over,” said winning pitcher Taylor Martin, who helped her own cause with a triple leading off the first inning and a three-run homerun in the fifth.

“I would say with this win and with the energy we had today we definitely can play with whoever we have next and I’m ready,” continued Martin, completing her interview with a celebratory jig. “I’m super excited.”

The monumental win in fact advances the No. 6 Spartans (13-7) into Thursday’s quarterfinals opposite No. 14 Kennard-Dale (13-6), a 10-7 upset winner over No. 3 West Perry, at a site and time to be determined.

As for No. 11 Twin Valley (14-9), the game appeared headed in a different direction in the top of the first inning. Martin had other plans, however, striking-out Hannah Norton with runners on second and third before junior shortstop Sydney Nichols made a diving catch of an infield pop to end the threat.

Seizing momentum in the bottom half, Martin (3-for-4, 3R, 3RBI) tripled on the first pitch from Raiders’ lefthander Brittany Evans. Abby Foor walked on a close full-count pitch before sophomore Brandi Clark (3-for-4, 3R, 3RBI, 2 doubles) laced a two-bagger to left center for an early lead.

“We knew we had to jump on them quick, we knew they were a good team, we knew they could bat,” Clark said. “We just came in prepared, knew exactly what to do.”

Clark would score on a double-steal to cap the first inning, before a five-run second inning essentially put the game away.

Freshman Elizabeth King’s three-run double to the alley in left center brought in Emily Shopf (3-for-4, 2R), Martin, and Foor. Clark singled in King (3-for-4, R, 3RBI), before Abi Fricke’s single brought in Clark, who had taken third on an error.

In all, the Spartans rapped-out seventeen hits after struggling at times with their hitting this season, including a mid-season victory in which they were no-hit.

“Take one pitch at a time,” explained Spartans’ coach Ashley Mansfield on her players’ outpouring of lumber. “I preach, you have to play like a team. When one teammate doesn’t (get a hit), maybe the next person in line steps up and takes care of them.”

The 8-0 lead after two allowed Martin (6K, BB) to coast from there, dazzling with her changeup and working the corners. Twin Valley put together a three-run rally in the third with a pair of triples off the bat of Sarah Clinton (3-for-4, 2R) and Ashlynn Lennon (1-for-2, R, RBI).

Clinton and Grace Marsalo singled in the seventh, and Norton (1-for-3, triple, RBI) launched a sacrifice fly, but the game was already decided by that point.


District 3 Triple-A First Round

Garden Spot 12, Twin Valley 5

TV          0  0  3    0  0  0    2 — 05  08  3

GS          3  5  0    1  3  0    x — 12  17  3

SO-BB — TV Brittany Evans 4-1; GS Taylor Martin 6-1

WP — Martin; LP — Evans

2B — GS 3 (Brandi Clark 2, Elizabeth King)

3B — TV 3 (Sarah Clinton, Ashlynn Lennon, Hannah Norton); GS 1 (Taylor Martin)

HR — GS 1 (Taylor Martin)