Destin Sharks knock off Rutherford Rams

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Freshman Keelie Ellis knocked in five runs to lead the Destin High Shark softball team in a 19-2 victory over the visiting Rutherford Rams of Panama City on March 1. 

Ellis slapped two doubles, walked twice and knocked in five RBIs for the Sharks. 

Keelie Ellis, a freshman, was the big hitter for the Destin High Sharks in their 19-2 win over Rutherford.

The Sharks had a couple of other big hitters in the run-rule victory. Senior Anna Carroll went 3-for-3 with a single and two doubles for two RBIs. Olivia “YaYa” McClain belted her first home run of the year in the second inning with Maddie Barr on base after she beat out a bunt down the first base line. 

Junior pitcher Ava Towery faced 18 batters, struck out three and allowed only three hits to secure the win. 

This was the Sharks' first victory of the season.  

“After dropping our first four games and losing a close one to Central High School last Friday, (Feb. 24) I told the them today that every streak starts with one in a row, let’s get one going and they all delivered,” said Destin Coach Rob DeGennaro. 

Rutherford scored early in the game with one run in the first inning on a hit and a Destin throwing error. 

The Sharks came back in the bottom half with a walk from Carroll, who moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt from Barr. Carroll slipped in home on a passed ball. Senior Vianni Silvestre smacked a two-out triple and freshman Shay Kitchens singled to score Silvestre.  

Ellis finished the inning with a two-run double to left center for a 5-1 advantage at the end of one. 

The Sharks shut Rutherford down in the top of the second and then came in and put three more runs on the board. 

Carroll led off with a single, Barr laid down a bunt down the first-base line and Carroll scored. McClain clobbered an inside-the-park home run for two RBIs to put the Sharks up 8-2. 

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Rutherford scored their second run of the night in the top of the third on a walk and then a gapper to left center by JuJu Johnson. 

Destin added two more in the bottom of the fourth, with Carroll connecting for a double and McLain a single. Destin led 10-2. 

In the fourth, Destin finished off the game. Sydney Davis singled, Kylie Lebold had a sacrifice bunt, Carroll hit a two-run double and McLain ripped a single to center for an RBI. The game ended when Ellis hit her second double of the night to score three runs. 

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The Sharks, in their second season, have a lot of young players: five freshmen and five sophomores. 

“We needed all hands on deck due to early season injury bug, but Ellis stepped up and got the job done,” DeGennaro said. 

As for the pitcher, “Towery dedicated her whole summer learning to pitch and it showed tonight. Her drop ball was key to a lot of the ground outs we executed for outs,” he said. 

“And my two seniors, Carroll and Silvestre, are both stepping up leading the way and taking their underclassmen under their wings,” he said. 

The Sharks' next home game is at 5 p.m. March 9 at Morgan Sports Center against Pensacola High.