Huddleston breaks Three Rivers home run record

Sunday, April 19, 2015

KANSAS CITY -- "I almost cried when I rounded third (on the 14th home run). I saw my teammates standing there at home," Demesha Huddleston said. "They were all there for me and as soon as I touched home plate, it was an amazing feeling to have them all there with me at that moment."

Huddleston hit her 14th and 15th home runs Friday in a doubleheader against Maple Woods to become the new Three Rivers career home run record holder.

"They were both lasers. She got all of it," Three Rivers coach Jack Childress said. "If she can keep that up, that is going to help us a bunch."

The sophomore went into the day tied for the record with Jessica Menz and Cindy Nippe at 13 home runs.

The Lady Raiders (33-15, 10-6 Region XVI) hit four home runs, their most in a single game this season, to beat Maple Woods 11-0 in the nightcap.

Kelen Smith pitched her third shutout in a row as Three Rivers won the opener 5-0. She also had a 3-run home run in the nightcap. It was her fourth home run of the season.

"Our bus driver said 'I don't see a clique on this team.' And I don't think there is one," said Childress on his way back from Maple Woods (11-21, 6-12 Region XVI) with the team singing on the bus in the background.

Huddleston, who hit a freshman-record 10 home runs last year, followed Smith's lead with a solo homer in the fourth and a 2-run shot in the fifth that brought the run-rule into play.

"When I hit the first one, as soon as it came off the bat, I knew it was going out. All I could do was watch it," Huddleston said. "The second one, I was like, I am really stepping up. I accomplished something major and I didn't think I would do it. With Abby (Tillotson) having faith in me and the coaches, I was able to get it done."

She and Tillotson have taken to calling each other's shots. One will ask whoever is at bat, "What are you going do?" The batter will give an assertive nod to say, "I'm going to get a hit." It helps the duo give each other confidence in bad counts or key moments.

But with Huddleston at the plate with a 2-2 count and one out in the fourth, Tillotson kept quiet.

"She didn't call it but I'll still give her credit because without her talking to me and keeping me up, it wouldn't have happened," Huddleston said.

Not to be completely outdone, Tillotson, who hits in front of Huddleston in the lineup, tied the Three Rivers single-season record with her 11th home run.

Huddleston called it.

Tillotson connected for a 2-run home run in the first inning.

Not to be completely outdone either, Amber Johnson stole four bases in the nightcap and five on the day, giving her 65 for the season and 12 more than anyone else in Division I.

With four games left in the regular season, plus the double-elimination Region XVI tournament,

Johnson is on pace to break the Three Rivers stolen base record of 74, set by Stefanie Ferguson in 2010.

At least one of them is also certain to finish somewhere in the records, if not at the top, in next seasons re-worked media guide in RBIs, batting average, slugging, hits and runs scored.

"How blessed I am to be a part of this team and to be able to coach players that go on to make themselves prosperous in life," Childress said.

Johnson scored three times and was 4-for-4 in the nightcap. Huddleston was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Tillotson and Smith each had three RBIs.

It was much more than enough offense for Destiny Bolen, who allowed six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over five innings.

In the opener, Smith allowed four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. She also allowed four hits in a complete game shutout during sophomore day on Thursday. She shutout St. Louis in a 3-inning win prior to that.

"It was a good day. Kelen pitched well and so did Destiny," Childress said.

Smith has won five games in a row and has not lost a start since April 6 against Dyersburg State.

Behind her, the Lady Raiders took the lead in clinical small ball fashion.

Johnson led off with a double, stole third, and scored on Karisa Coleman's sacrifice bunt.

With two outs, Tillotson doubled and scored on Huddleston's single up the middle.

Huddleston took second on the throw and put Three Rivers ahead 3-0 on Hope Miller's single up the middle.

In the third inning, Kaelie Smith brought in Huddleston and Miller with a 2-RBI single to right field.

Three Rivers went hitless in the fourth inning and, after a pitching change, managed a single and two walks the rest of the game.

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