Tucson, Ariz. - The Juggernaut trailed the Arizona Heat all game, until Kellie Wilkerson, a four-time NCAA All-American out of Mississippi State University, stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Wilkersons home run gave the Juggernaut the lead, before Arizona tied the game in the bottom-half of the inning to send it to extra frames.
Jen Smith (2-for-4) and Carri Leto (1-for-4) managed singles in the top of the seventh before Gina Oaks and Jaclyn Pasquerella grounded out to leave the Nauts with only one more scoring opportunity. Wilkerson (2-for-3), who tripled off of Heat lefthander Erica Beach in the sixth inning, knew that she could make or break the game as the Nauts trailed by one run. Beach threw two strikes before Wilkerson sent the third pitch sailing over the right field fence for a three-run homerun.
Her blast was the first of the season for the Juggernaut who went on to win the game in the eighth inning on Germaine Fairchild's sacrifice fly to score Lyndsey Klein. Wilkerson finished the game with a triple, homerun, three runs and three RBI, earning Player of the Game honors.
Juggernaut starter Kaci Clark pitched 6.1 innings, giving up five earned runs on eight Heat hits. Amanda Scott (2-0), who came in relief of Clark in the seventh inning, recorded the win, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings. Scott, who earned a save yesterday in relief, earned her second win in three appearances and boasts an ERA of 0.00. Monica Triner took the loss for the Heat dropping to 0-1 on the season.
The Heat jumped on board early with an RBI single by Beach in the first inning after Clark walked two batters. Then in the second, Clark walked Cheryl Bolding with the bases loaded to bring in Nancy Evans who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. Lisha Ribellia's fielder choice scored Katie Gutierrez before Clark got out of the jam.
After Wilkerson's homerun gave the Nauts a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning, the Heat came back to tie the game and force extra innings with a single by Ribellia and an RBI double by Wendy Allen before starter, Clark, was pulled. Scott came in for relief but two passed balls by catcher Germaine Fairchild scored the fifth run for the Heat.
The Juggernaut kept fighting and in the top of the eight inning, Fairchild hit the game winner on a sacrifice fly to center field. Lyndsey Klein (1-for-4) hit a long fly ball that was scored an error on Bolding and reached third base before Fairchild hit her in to win the game.
The first place Juggernaut (5-0) will go for the sweep against the Arizona Heat (1-4) tomorrow, June 7th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
June 9-11 NY/NJ Juggernaut at Texas Thunder, 8:35 pm (3)