Houston's Belle Knarr picks up coach Willy Walker as she heads for third base.

Small ball led to a big win for the Houston softball team.

Forcing the issue with bunts and aggressive baserunning, the Lady Tigers capitalized on costly mistakes and topped Salem 9-5 Tuesday on Carter Field.

“Salem is a good team,” Houston coach Willy Walker said. “We wanted to put some pressure on them and hope that they wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

They didn’t. Salem committed four errors — leading to seven unearned runs for Houston.

Belle Knarr was the biggest pain for the Salem defense. She bunted all four plate appearances and reached three times via errors. She circled the bases — along with two other runners — in the sixth inning when an errant throw went into the right-field corner following her fourth bunt.

“I always tell my kids that if we keep putting the ball in play, anything can happen,” Walker said.

Maddie Vandiver and Olivia Woosley had two hits apiece for Houston. Knarr scored three times.

The Lady Tigers (5-3, 1-1 South Central Association) earned an impressive win without starting shortstop Taylor Franklin, who is sidelined two weeks with a broken wrist.

After giving up a two-run home run in the first, Houston starter Kayla Kelley threw four straight scoreless innings and gave up one hit in the final three innings. She allowed three earned runs.

Kelley was aided by several nice defensive plays. Right fielder Kaylea Preheim had two diving catches, and Knarr picked a runner off first base and threw out a batter following a swinging third strike to end the fifth.

“Belle’s throw saved us a run,” Walker said. “She threw from her knees from the fence to get a fast runner. That was a heck of a play.”

——

Box score

HOUSTON 9, SALEM 5

Salem    300  002  0  –  5  5  4
Houston     300  033  x  –  9  6  2

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) — Vandiver ss 3-2-2-0. Knarr c 1-3-0-0. Kelley p 4-1-1-2. Woosley 2b 3-2-2-1. Swindell 1b 3-0-0-1. Preheim rf 3-0-1-1. Ashworth dh 2-0-0-0. Scheets ph 1-0-0-0. Harrison 3b 2-0-0-0. Dodson cf 2-1-0-0. Totals 24-0-6-5.

WP: Kelley.

Record: Houston, 5-3

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