Heroics by Barnett, Johnson lead WC

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2002

Lyn Strawn of Warren Central, left, greets teammate Katie Barnett after Barnett hit an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning Thursday against Clinton. The hit gave WC a 5-3 lead, and the Lady Vikes went on to win 10-3. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[09/20/02]Katie Barnett’s slump-busting home run and Cookie Johnson’s rally-killing defense powered Warren Central past Clinton Thursday at Lady Vike Field.

WC (11-5) scored nine unanswered runs, starting with Barnett’s homer in the fourth inning, and beat the Lady Arrows 10-3.

“We started out kind of shaky, and I was just pleased that we came back with some big hits,” WC coach Lucy Young said.

Hayley Martin and Lyn Strawn each had two hits and an RBI for the Lady Vikes, and Tranyce Peoples and Lauren Anderson added RBI singles.

Kris Smith tripled and scored on Patti Collins’ RBI single in the top of the fourth for Clinton (7-11), and Brooke Bradley started the Lady Arrows’ rally in that inning with a homer over the center field fence.

It was Bradley’s sixth home run of the season, and the third one she has hit out of the park. The hit sparked a three-run rally that gave Clinton a short-lived 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, WC loaded the bases for Barnett with the help of two errors. Barnett had been in a slump for nearly three weeks, hitting the ball right at fielders or simply putting weak grounders or pop-ups in play, but this time she drove a clean basehit to center field.

The ball bounced over the glove of the Clinton center fielder, who was trying to cut the ball off with a backhanded stab, and rolled to the fence. That cleared the bases and allowed Barnett to reach third. When the shortstop bobbled the cutoff throw, then hesitated before throwing it in, Barnett sprinted home to give WC a 5-3 lead.

“I’m still not out of it yet, but it’s a start. I’m glad it came when it did,” Barnett said of the slump and the hit. “Everything just kind of worked out nice. It got us going.”

Clinton loaded the bases on two errors and a walk in the fifth, and that’s when Johnson took over.

She made a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch of a pop-up in short left field for the first out, then leaped high in the air to snag a line drive for the second out. Martin got Clinton’s Leslie Hutchinson to fly out to left for the final out, and the Lady Vikes escaped the jam.

“That could have changed the whole complexion of the game right there,” Young said. “A couple of those (Johnson) took out of the air were potential back-breakers for getting a rally going.”

After Johnson’s heroics, the Lady Vikes put the game away with three more runs in the fifth and two in the sixth.

Johnson helped plate the two runs in the sixth when she hit a ball that was misplayed by the Clinton shortstop and rolled all the way to the fence. Barnett scored, with Johnson not far behind, to make it 10-3.

“When we loaded the bases in the fifth and did not score, and Cookie made those two great plays, they just blew it open,” said Clinton coach Allen Lunceford, who lost one of his top hitters to a broken shoulder last week and had two seventh-graders and four ninth-graders in the lineup. “That’s when they came in and hit the ball hard.”