The playoff push is well and truly on at the Alberta Scotties.
In a battle of 1-4 teams desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Nicky Kaufman rink jumped out to an early lead and didn't look back to earn the 11-5 result over Lethbridge's Jodi Vaughan and finished Friday's evening draw with two wins on the day at the 2020 Sentinel Storage Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Okotoks' Murray Arena.
"It was a little bit of a slow start, we had some illnesses on our team too, which I think, lack of energy and trying to get our strength back up contributed (to)," said Team Kaufman third Pamela Appelman. "This time, we came out shooting and setting up ends early with lead and second rocks really helped generate some points for us and get our momentum going.
"We're really feeling on the up and up and things are good."
Kaufman picked up two in the second and third and put up a four-ender in the fourth to take control of the contest. Vaughan chipped away four consecutive single ends before Kaufman ended things with a triple in the ninth.
"It's try to play it safe and with the five-rock rule it's really hard to be defensive and keep it open," Appelman said. "We were okay with giving them one once in a while, as long as we had our chance to get our one we were pretty happy."
Team Kaufman is now in a four-way tie for fourth spot at 2-4 with one draw left to play in round-robin.
"We've still got to come out strong and play our game and take it one shot at a time," Kaufman said. "We're going to try not to think about the consequences of the game and just focus on our process."
The playoff picture became a little clearer after the evening draw.
Laura Walker improved to a perfect 6-0 by dispatching Lethbridge's Casey Scheidegger 9-5, clinching its spot in the 1 vs. 2 page playoff match.
Kelsey Rocque earned a 6-5 victory over Kayla Skrlik in a seesaw 6-5 contest that went down to the final shot. The teams traded single ends through the first nine before Rocque picked up a double in the tenth. Rocque is firmly in the playofs with a 5-1 record while Skrlik is at 2-4.
St. Albert's Krysta Hilker, the eighth seed coming into the Scotties, continued to impress with a terrific 7-5 win over Lacombe's Marla Sherrer to also book a spot in the playoffs with a 4-2 record.
"We're focused on the next game at hand, we're looking at the big picture, but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves and we're just taking it one game at a time and we'll see what happens," Hilker said. "If you told me we were going to be 4-2 coming into this I probably wouldn't have believed you.
"But we've been having a really strong week, being competitive and playing our best, which is all you can ask for."
Rocks in play characterized the battle with Sherrer and a steal of two in the seventh end proving to be a turning point for Hilker.
"We were struggling a little bit on hits so we switched to a draw game," Hilker said. "We were able to get rocks in the right position and make them make some tough shots and scored some points."
The seventh and final round-robin draw is 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 25.
For the latest on the Scotties go to https://www.okotokstoday.ca/2020-alberta-scotties