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Sugar & Spice - Everything Nicely
ARLINGTON On April 12 the difference between a win and a loss for Arlingtons fastpitch team was found in the leather webbing of Kate Nicelys second basemans mitt.
Nicely leapt and snared a screaming liner headed toward right field during a crucial moment of the Eagles fastpitch 2-1 victory over Marysville-Pilchuck, preserving victory for the home team.
Christina Rayner pitched yet another fantastic game for Arlington, racking up a number of strike-outs and keeping M-P hitters off-balance all evening. She found herself in trouble only once, in the second inning when M-P used a leadoff double to help produce their only run of the game. The double was followed by a sacrifice bunt, moving the runner to third base, and a single scored her to give M-P the early edge on the scoreboard. However, Rayner shut them down after that.
The Eagles produced two runs of their own in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Rayner helped her own cause, leading off with a single, then moving to third base on a Nicely single behind her. First baseman Kaitlyn McAlister then blasted a deep sacrifice to centerfield to score Rayner from third. Right fielder Allie Milless singled behind her, then advanced to second base as M-P tried to throw Nicely out at third. Nicely scored during the very next at-bat thanks to a passed ball charged to the M-P catcher. She rushed home as the catcher rummaged around the backstop looking for the ball. Vanessa Taylor lined out to end the inning, but Arlington had put themselves in front and they would stay that way thanks to Nicelys effort in the field.
Leading 2-1 in the fifth, hurler Christina Rayner gave up a leadoff walk to M-P. The runner stole second and advanced to third on a one-out ground ball to shortstop Kristen Allen. Allen made a safe throw to first base, choosing to rely on Rayner rather than risk a close play at third. Rayner then came through for the third out. After coach Danny Eng implored his young second baseman Nicely to shift back toward the outfield grass, the M-P batter ripped a drive eight feet off the ground. The crowd held its collective breath as Nicely jumped and, in an instant, plucked out of the air the sure single, saving the run for Rayner and effectively safeguarding the win for Arlington as well.
It would prove to be M-Ps last opportunity as Rayner set them down in order in the sixth and seventh inning. In the sixth she got more defensive help from Allen who snared a tough ground ball and made a twirling throw to first base for the second out of the inning.
Rayner did not need any help at all behind her in the seventh. She sent all three M-P batters back to the bench as strike-out victims.
After the game, Kate Nicely talked about her fifth inning catch.
Coach told me to move back toward the grass. I just saw the ball hit right above me and went with my first reaction.
When asked about the difference in the game, Nicely responded.
We kept up our intensity the whole time. We were solid the whole game and our hitting picked up.
The team takes on Oak Harbor April 20.