Fullum powers Clippers

SALINEVILLE -Last season, Columbiana’s Khylea Fullum belted three home runs.

After a two-run blast to help the Clippers cruised past the Indians in a 15-1 victory on Tuesday afternoon, Fullum has matched the total from her junior campaign.

“I haven’t been hitting the ball this year, it’s been big hits or no hits,” Fullum said. “I just wanted to see what I could do and I knew she was the type of pitcher I could maybe hit one off of.”

The Clippers improve to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Inter-Tri County League lower tier.

Fullum came close to clearing the bases in the second inning, pulling a pitch fouled that would have sailed over the left field fence with little question had it stayed in fair territory. Ultimately, she popped out to the shortstop for the final out of the inning.

In the fourth, she left no doubt.

“I knew it was gone,” Fullum said. “Just from the sound of the bat.”

Fullum’s blast sparked an eight-run fourth inning that more than doubled the Clippers 7-0 lead that had amassed through three innings.

In all, 12 Clippers made a trip to the plate as Columbiana blew open a game that was slowly slipping away from the Indians.

“It’s hard to focus after you beat a team by as many as we beat them by last night,” Columbiana coach Jerry Beltempo said. “But I’m still going to remind them of things that we have to do.”

Despite the lopsided score, the Clippers ran into outs on the basepaths through early innings that could have added more runs to their total.

“We have to be more aware of how many outs there are, who’s covering what base,” Beltempo said. “When we give a particular sign, not to miss the sign, and picking up the coaches on the bases. Little things that add up.”

In the fourth, things began to click, and one after another the Clippers came up to the plate and scored shortly after.

Columbiana batted around in the inning and Fullum found herself at the plate again in the same inning.

“My dad always tells me, ‘It’s not the home run, it’s what you do after the home run that matters,’” Fullum said. “So that’s always my main focus is just getting a base hit the next at-bat.”

She came through with her third hit of the afternoon, a rope down the third base line that scored Colette Steiginga and Dakota DeAmicis to continue the big inning.

“I’m glad I had that hit,” Fullum said. “I almost took out my teammate but she was okay.”

Fullum finished the afternoon going 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

“Khylea is one of our top hitters,” Beltempo said. “She’s been struggling a little bit with the slower pitching but she obviously nailed that one down the line and hit one out. In order to be successful, we need to have her hit.”

Holly Gotthardt went 4-for-4 for the Clippers with an RBI. Elise Hammond also added three hits.

Marissa St. George took the win on the mound for the Clippers tossing five innings of one-run ball. Kayla Huff was handed the loss for Southern Local.

Asyia Canterbury notched a hit and an RBI for the Indians.

Columbiana will host Salem today at Firestone Park.

Notes: After a loss to Crestview to open the season, the Clippers have now won eight straight games.

– After connecting on her third home run of the season, Fullum joked with her mother by about the number of home runs she had amassed this season.

“Last year I only hit three home runs and I’ve already hit three home runs this year,” Fullum said. “So I always joke with my dad that I can call him whatever I want now that I have as many home runs now than I had last season.”