By: Cassandra Swartz
The Gainesville Hurricanes stormed into town Tuesday night to improve to 3-0 and spoil the Santa Fe Raiders’ home opener. It was a strong offensive performance from both teams, but not much to show for either defense--especially as the nearly three-hour game wore on and the defenses became increasingly fatigued.
The Canes started off hot as they put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning, all with two outs.
Briana Boggs singled home Ayanna Woodard, who had reached on a double, for the first score of the game. Cheyenne Boggs then doubled to bring her sister home and crossed the plate herself on a single by starting pitcher Kyra Hornsby.
Kourtney Bryant hit a two-RBI double to put the Raiders in the early five-run deficit. She drove home Michaela Cromarty, who was pinch running for Hornsby, and Charlotte Sims, who had laced a single.
The Canes cycled through the entire order before Raiders starting pitcher, Madi Hewett, was able to see the leadoff hitter for the second time and get her to pop out to left field for the third out. After an opening walk by Hornsby, the Canes got the next three Raiders out to end the first inning.
The second inning was scoreless for both teams, but the visitors widened their lead in the top of the third and forced Santa Fe to change pitchers after only one-third inning.
C. Boggs singled to open the third, advanced on a wild pitch and was driven home by a Sims single through the gap in center to make it 6-0. A single by Karter Thorp and a walk to Bryant loaded the bases for Jayla Clark, who sent a grand slam over the fence in center.
“Hitting the grand slam felt pretty effortless,” Clark said after the game, which emphasized how strong the Canes offense felt.
After giving up the grand slam, Hewett was replaced in the circle by Sam Dunton, but the trouble wasn’t over for the Raiders. Woodard hit her second double of the game, raced to third on a wild pitch and sprinted home on a sacrifice grounder by Parris Wiggs to put Gainesville up 11.
The Boggs sisters came next in the order and demolished back-to-back home runs to make it 13-0. The Raiders offense came to life in the bottom of the third to partially cut the deficit. A three-run bomb by Hewett brought Amy Crosby and Dunton home to make it 13-3.
Maddie Martin knocked an RBI-double to give Santa Fe one more run before the end of the inning. In the top of the fourth, Bryant hit the Canes fourth homer of the game to put them back up by ten runs.
Raiders batters flew out in order for a quiet bottom of the fourth.Gainesville continued to light up the scoreboard as Woodard, Wiggs, Cailin Fouraker, and C. Boggs all crossed the plate to add four more runs in the top of the fifth.
Sensing a mercy rule, Hornsby was replaced by Sims in the circle with a 14-run lead to try and close out the game in the fifth inning. However, the Raiders were not ready to go down without a fight as they drew a walk, hit a double, three straight singles, then a triple to score five runs and remove the threat of the run rule ending the game after that inning.
Gainesville head coach Chris Chronister put starting pitcher Hornsby back in the game mid-inning to try and stop Santa Fe’s rally. Hewett got an RBI-double off of her to make it 18-10, but Hornsby got the outs to end the inning without taking any additional damage.
The Canes responded to the Raiders rally with their own show of offense in the top of the sixth. Six straight hits—two doubles and four singles—stretched the lead to 22-10.
A strikeout was followed by four consecutive singles that brought the team to 26 runs on the night.Back in run rule territory, the Raiders had three more outs to make a dent.
The bottom of the sixth saw some nice hits but also some significant defensive blunders.Santa Fe was able to put five more runs on the board to make it 26-15 but couldn’t close the gap enough before Hornsby got the final batter to strike out swinging with the bases loaded.
“The bats were hot tonight,” said Chronister. “Our pitching and defense[were]a little suspect, so we needed every run we got.”
There were many offensive stars of the night, but two of the biggest were Briana and Cheyenne Boggs. Each went 5-6with a home run. Cheyenne also had a double and three singles, while Briana added four singles of her own.
Both of them spoke about the team performance after the win.
“We were doing really good in the beginning and then we had a lot of errors,” said Cheyenne. “But overall, [I’m] proud of the win.”
Briana added her take, saying “we fell off on our defense, but we pulled through with our hitting in every inning, so we can’t complain too much.”
Gainesville looks to remain undefeated as it hosts Middleburg on Thursday. Santa Fe travels to Keystone Heights on the same day to try and pick up its first win.