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Carlton's home run total already to eight as Lady Tigers win four at Festival


Audrey Carlton's trio of home runs at the Ozarks Fall Festival over the weekend upped her season home run total to an amazing eight in 14 games.

The junior center fielder’s power display led the Lady Tigers to four wins in their five games. They downed Rolla, Fort Zumwalt West, Verdigris (Oklahoma) and Marquette, while losing to Lee’s Summit West.

With Ozark (9-5) likely having at least 20 games to play, Carlton is ahead of a pace that could allow her to challenge Nya Morgan’s seemingly unattainable single-season school record of 16 home runs.

“I don't know, I guess at this rate it could be (within reach),” Carlton said. “But I'm not trying to break any records. It would be very shocking to me (to break the record). I don't think I would be able to believe it.”

Carlton has been proud of her approach at-bat.

“I'm never thinking home run, I'm thinking line drive or base hit,” Carlton said. “I never want to swing for the fences. 

“I have more confidence at the plate. I have a better mindset,” she added. “I’m trying to be selective, but still want to be aggressive. I've been pretty satisfied with the (pitches) I’ve hit.”

Catcher Nya Morgan's two-strike hitting led to a pair of home runs in Ozark’s 11-2 whipping of Verdigris. Both of her blasts came with her having two strikes. 

“I usually don't strike out and I think it's embarrassing to strike out,” Morgan said. “My two-strike approach is very good. I don't get down on myself, focus on having a clean slate and poke it somewhere.

“I shorten up (my swing) and try to put it in play,” she added. “You want to back down with two strikes a little. When I stay simple with things, it seems easier to hit a home run than when I'm trying to force it.”

Morgan was encouraged by how Ozark’s hitting progressed throughout the Festival. 

Third baseman Kelsie Batey ranks as one of the area’s most improved hitters and seemingly is a line drive waiting to happen as the Lady Tigers’ lead-off hitter. Second baseman Courtney Merrell, shortstop Kaley Linnebur and first baseman Emily Griest are supplying punch, as well.

“We've struggled keeping consistency throughout our whole lineup,” she said. “But now we're stringing hits together.”