ST. CHARLES • Mara Worley and Ashley Parks are the only two seniors on the 15-player Lafayette varsity softball roster and the duo came through in a big way Thursday.
Worley went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs batted in and Parks had a pair of hits, including a two-out sixth-inning triple that broke a 3-all tie and sent the Lancers to a 6-5 victory in a non-conference game at Francis Howell North.
“Me and Ashley have been playing together since kindergarten, so it’s nice to have your best friend playing with you as a senior,” said Worley, who now leads Lafayette with 11 RBIs.
The victory was the third in as many days for the Lancers (8-5), who started four sophomores and three freshmen in addition to the two seniors, and also had a freshmen reliever pick up the victory in the circle.
“I was proud of them,” Lafayette coach Scott DeNoyer said. “They did have a few mistakes, but they stuck together and made some good plays at the end of the game.”
An outflow boundary from nearby thunderstorms caused the wind to pick up considerably in the second inning, but Lafayette was able to ignore it and pick up a run in the third.
Kaycee Cohen led off with a bunt single, Parks sacrificed her to second and Worley laced a double over the head of Howell North left fielder Austine Pauley for a 1-0 lead.
Play was then halted between the top and bottom of the third inning when the umpires detected lightning way off in the distance.
After a 30-minute delay, the game was resumed and Howell North (4-4) finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth.
Paige Pauley led off the frame with a base hit and Austine Pauley quickly brought her older sister home with a double over the head of Lafayette left fielder Emily Look to tie the game. Jess Grimes dropped down a bunt and the throw to first hit her to allow the go-ahead run to score.
The Lancers quickly got those runs right back in the next half-inning.
Cohen reached on an error with one out and Parks followed with an infield single. Worley then drove a single through the left side of the infield to tie it at 2. After Madison Seifert was safe on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, Lauren Reynolds delivered a squeeze bunt to bring in Parks to put Lafayette back on top 3-2.
Howell North promptly tied in the home half of the fifth when Lafayette threw away the ball away at second on a possible triple play after a strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out double play.
In the top of the sixth, it appeared the Lancers were going to run themselves out of the inning after one runner was caught stealing and another was tagged out on a rundown between third and home.
But, that’s when Parks delivered a sizzling grounder to the right of Howell North second baseman Abagail Griffin that rolled all the way to the wall for a two-run triple and a 5-3 lead. Worley then notched her third hit and third RBI with a one-hop double off the left field fence.
“It was nice to have that,” Worley said of her big day. “I’ve had a slump the past few games, so it’s nice to be back and hitting.”
The Knights picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth when Lancers freshman pitcher Keely Sweet unleashed consecutive wild pitches to bring in a runner each time.
But, Sweet got out the jam with a groundout by Howell North’s top hitter, Griffin, and then induced three straight groundouts to short in the seventh to preserve the victory in her first varsity appearance in the circle.
“We thought it was a good opportunity for her to get out there and see what she can do,” DeNoyer said of Sweet. “I’m really proud of her. She did a great job.”