The good news for Smithville is that they found a hitting stroke in their opening round MHSAA Class 1A playoffs series, which was bad news for the Falkner Lady Eagles.
Tuesday, the Lady Seminoles scored just two runs through the first four innings of Game 1 against Falkner, but exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to win 10-0. They kept the hot sticks swinging in Game 2, with 18 hits to win in a rout, 23-3.
The Lady Seminoles won the series 2-0 and will travel to Myrtle for the state quarterfinals Saturday.
"We've been waiting for our bats to get kicked off," said Duke, who guided Smithville to the 2011 slow-pitch state title. "We've hit well for the most part, but it just kind of came together right there all at once."
Despite the opening-round win and the expectations to possibly play for back-to-back titles entering 2012, Duke said his Lady Seminoles have to stay focused.
"We just have to continue to work and stay focused as a team," he said.
In Game 1, the Lady Seminoles sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lone senior Kyla Ford, Breanna Edgeworth and Claire McNeese reached via singles, before Smithville got six consecutive RBI-singles and a two-RBI double from Billie Claire Goode to lead 9-0.
Batting first in the finale, Smithville (18-11) led 8-0 after one inning following RBIs by McNeese, Katie Beth Williams and Kennedy, who went 5 for 5.
Smithville added 12 runs in the fourth to lead 21-1, thanks to a 3-run HR by Edgeworth, her second of the day and a grand slam by Claire McNeese
"My girls came out playing hard those first four innings and when Smithville started hitting the ball it was like letting the air out," Falkner coach Jeremy White said.