The more pitcher Avery Romans and catcher Jaiden Gibbs work together, the better they get. And they sure got a lot better Tuesday night, powering the Lady Tigers to a 3-1 win over Neosho in their Central Ozark Conference opener.
Romans was as good as she’s been all year against a strong Neosho lineup, scattering six hits and allowing just a single run. She struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
And Romans got a lift from her battery-mate, Gibbs, who slugged a solo home run – the first of her career – over the left-centerfield fence in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Romans a two-run cushion heading into the seventh.
“That’s my first one over, actually. I was pretty upset with my performance batting earlier in the game, and I knew that I needed to get up there and get a base hit, because I knew Jaci [West] could come in behind me and do her job,” said Gibbs. When she hit the ball, she said, “I didn’t really think about it (being out). I just knew I needed to run. When I got to second base is when I kind of picked up on the memo that it was out.”
The additional run helped Romans relax heading into the seventh inning, when she shut down the Wildcats to clinch the win.
“I knew we could have got it done with a one-run lead, but it boosted my confidence with the two-run lead. Going into that last inning it’s a lot of pressure,” she said.
With Gibbs stepping into the varsity catching role for the first time this season, she and Romans hadn’t worked together much before the summer. But four games into this season, each is feeling more comfortable with the other.
“I feel like we are getting…the ‘feeling’ of each other – her catching me. We’re working well together,” said Romans. Gibbs agrees, and adds, “I feel like it goes on and off the field.”
Listen to Gibbs and Romans, and watch Gibbs’ home run here:
Tuesday night, the teams were scoreless until the bottom of the third, when Republic got on the board first. Kaitlyn Ragsdale singled to lead off and when Megan Weis bunted her over, a wild throw allowed Ragsdale to score. With Weis on second base, AJ Fenske doubled her home to make the score 2-0.
Neosho cut the lead in half in the fifth inning, and could have had more, except for a bizarre play that led to an out. With a runner on first, the next hitter reached on a bunt single. When the baserunner tried to advance to third, a wild throw allowed her to score. But the hitter, apparently believing she’d been retired at first, walked back to the dugout. First baseman Katie Anderson retrieved the ball and tagged her out in front of home plate.
The score remained 2-1 until Gibbs lined the ball over the left field fence with two outs in the sixth inning.
Republic managed eight hits, including two each by Weis and Anderson. Ragsdale, Weis, and Gibbs each scored a run.
The Lady Tigers are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play.