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SOFTBALL
Record: 37-24 Home: 16-7 Away: 13-10 Neutral: 8-7 HAAC: 22-14
 
Softball - Thu, May 4, 2017
2
VS
8
Central Methodist University
Avila
Samantha Dexter (7) got the Eagles started with a 3-run 1st inning home run Thursday. (Photo Credit: Jan Humphreys)
Samantha Dexter (7) got the Eagles started with a 3-run 1st inning home run Thursday. (Photo Credit: Jan Humphreys)

St. Joseph, MO - Avila plated seven runs in the first inning against Central Methodist as they cruised to an 8-3 opening round victory in the Heart Postseason Tournament in St. Joseph, Mo. on Thursday morning.

The Eagles (32-21, 1-0 in Tournament) used a 3-run home run from Samantha Dexter and a 2-run blast from Abby King to jump on Central Methodist (26-21, 0-1 in Tournament) starter Erin Enke, who is the reigning Heart Pitcher of the Week. Avila also got a 2-run single from starting pitcher Kayleigh Behymer in the first inning to account for their seven runs.

With the victory, Avila advances to play Culver-Stockton in the 5:30 p.m. game against Culver-Stockton, who defeated top-seeded Grand View in the 10 a.m. game on Thursday morning. Grand View and Central Methodist will play in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Both games will be played on Field 4 at Heritage Park in St. Joseph, Mo.

Avila sent ten batters to the plate in the first inning, with Mackenzie Pritchett reaching with a leadoff walk before Sam Castoldi reached on a bunt single, setting up Dexter with a golden opportunity to put the Eagles ahead early. Dexter provided a huge spark for the Eagles by connecting on her fourth home run of the season, a 3-run blast that easily cleared the left field fence.

After an Emilee Biondo single and a sacrifice bunt from Kaycee Dexter to put a runner at second base, Hayden Roberts walked and both would advance on a passed ball, putting runners at second and third with one out. Megan Manestar popped out to deep short for the second out, but Behymer continued the inning with a 2-run single to put Avila on top, 5-0.

Abby King would close out the scoring for the Eagles in the first inning, hitting a 2-run home run of her own to put Avila on top 7-0 after one inning.

Both teams were scoreless in the second before Central Methodist got on the board with a solo home run from Hannah Steeby in the third inning to make it a 7-1 game. The Eagles would answer in the bottom of the inning, getting an unearned run on a Central Methodist error with two outs, giving Avila an 8-1 lead.

Avila's bats went cold from there as they failed to score another run in the game, but the seven run lead was plenty for starting picher Kayleigh Behymer. The sophomore picked up her eighteenth victory of the season, surrendering three runs over six innings. Jordan Simons came in to record the final three outs for the Eagles as they move on into the winner's bracket in the Heart Tournament.

Central Methodist started building momentum in the fourth inning, loading the bases and scoring a run on a bases loaded walk with one out, but Avila's Kaycee Dexter made a ridiculous diving catch in center field for the second out, completely changing the flow of the  game for Central Methodist. Behymer would get the next out to end the inning and the threat, and Avila cruised from there, surrendering just one  run in the seventh as they won, 8-3.

Samantha Dexter led the Eagles offensively in the victory, picking up a pair of hits, including the 3-run home run.

Looking Ahead: Avila and Culver-Stockton played a pair of games earlier this season, with Culver-Stockton sweeping the Eagles by scores of 3-1 and 10-1. The losses started a 5-game losing streak for the Eagles, their longest in the last three seasons. The Eagles defeated Culver-Stockton in the first round of the 2016 Heart Postseason Tournament, 3-0.

Box Score: Central Methodist - 3 vs. Avila - 8

Team1234567 RHE
Central Methodist (Mo.)0011001 381
Avila (Mo.)701000X 880