Erupting for 30 runs on 31 hits, the 15th-ranked Northeastern A&M Lady Norse opened the softball season Thursday with a 21-0 and 9-5 double-header sweep over Labette (Kan.) Community College on the NEO diamond.
Weather permitting coach Eric Iverson's Lady Norse remain at home on Monday for a 2 p.m. double-header with the Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College Lady Greyhounds.
Sophomore right-hander Candice Handley limited the Labette Lady Cardinals to singles by Ali Paxson and Whitney Piley as NEO crushed Labette 21-0 in five innings of the first game. Handley struck out seven without allowing a walk in five innings of work.
Batting in the leadoff spot, Handley collected a single and double and scored two runs in four plate appearances.
Handley reached on a error to start a 5-run first inning. Tia Reich followed with a single to left.
Both Handley and Reich scored on a passed ball by Labette catcher Leslie Winfield. After Shareena Pulse walked, freshman shortstop Shae Peterson drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for a two-run homer.
Consecutive singles by Emily Harp, Marie Audette and Erin Eddy gave NEO a 5-0 cushion.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Peterson singled to start a 3-run outburst by NEO.
After Harp walked, Audette tripled down the right field line scoring both Peterson and Harp. Becca Carden followed with a sacrifice fly to right scoring Audette for a 8-0 margin.
Sending 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning, the Lady Norse manufactured 11 runs.
Peterson had an RBI single and a two-run homer in the marathon inning along with an RBI double and single by Reich.
Pinch hitter Kara White reached on a fielder's choice with one out to start a two-run fourth inning for NEO. After Maria Bernal walked, RBI singles by Handley and Reich concluded the scoring.
Peterson paced the 18-hit Lady Norse attack with two singles, two home runs and five RBIs in four at-bats. Reich added a double and three singles while Audette contributed a triple and two singles.
Labette built a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the second game. A single by Savannah Morin started the game. A fielding error by Harp allowed Stephanie Ray to reach base.
After Leslie Winfield reached on a throwing error by Maria Bernal that scored Morin, both Ray and Winfield scored on a single by Ali Paxson.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Pulse singled to left. After Peterson singled, Pulse scored on a RBI single to right by Audette to create a 3-1 deficit.
The Lady Cardinals scored two unearned runs in the top of the second to construct a 5-1 lead. With two outs, Morin singled. Piley followed with a RBI double to left-center. Piley scored as Ray reached on a fielding error by Audette at third base.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Kayleigh Masterson doubled to center field. Eddy followed with a RBI triple to right-center scoring Masterson. Eddy scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Handley as NEO trailed by a 5-3 score.
Pinch hitter Leslie Hobbs singled and scored on a double to left-center by Handley to create a 5-4 Lady Norse deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Sending 10 batters to the plate in the fifth frame, the Lady Norse scored five runs. Singles by Carden, Handley and Peterson sandwiched around a RBI triple by Reich fueled the NEO uprising.
Handley, Peterson and Audette had two hits each to lead the 13-hit Lady Norse offense.
Harp struck out 10 and allowed five runs on seven hits in seven innings to gain the victory.
NEO 21-9, Labette, Kan. 0-5
Labette 000 00 - 0 2 3
Northeastern A&M 53(11) 2x - 21 18 3
Riebel and Winfield; Handley and Pulse. W - Handley (1-0). L - Riebel (0-1). 2b - NEO, Handley, Reich, Carden. 3b - NEO, Audette. HR - NEO, Peterson 2 (2).
Labette 320 000 0 - 5 7 3
Northeastern A&M 120 150 x - 9 13 3
Hutchins and Horton; Harp and Masterson, Hobbs (4). W - Harp (1-0). L - Hutchins (0-1). 2b - Labette, Piley, Paxson; NEO, Handley, Masterson. 3b - NEO, Reich, Eddy.