SP Fastpitch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

South Panola fast pitch runner Kelsay Hancock prepares to score the winning run from third Thursday against Cleveland. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Lady Tigers take it to 8 innings for the win

By Angie Ledbetter

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It took an extra inning but the South Panola Lady Tigers took downed Cleveland 2-1 last Thursday.

The game was tied at one at the end of the regulation seven innings.

“It was a big win and a win that we needed,” said Lady Tiger Head Coach Ashleigh Hicks. “Like I said at the beginning of the week, that we had two big games with Southaven and Cleveland. I think these are the situations that are going to help the girls later.”

The Lady Tigers (4-2) started hitting the ball hard in the bottom of the fourth getting their first run of the night. Left fielder Stormy Robison started the inning with a single. First baseman Meri Morgan Fortune followed with a single, advancing Robison to second. Pitcher Kenzi Reed also singled to load the bases. With two outs, center fielder Jennifer Newcomb hit a single driving home Robison for the first run.

In the top of the sixth, Cleveland tied the game when pitcher Lauren Kendall singled and advanced the bases with hits from her teammates.

Cleveland started the eighth inning with second baseman Emily Hatcher at second base, but she failed to advance as three batters were put out by the Lady Tiger’s defense.

Olivia Taylor, courtesy runner for Reed, started the bottom of the eighth on second base for the Lady Tigers. Catcher Kelsay Hancock hit a double but Taylor was tagged out at third. Third baseman Meredith Roberson was intentionally walked. Next up to bat was second baseman Chelsea Allen, who walked to load the bases.

Short stop Hillari Plummer’s hit was bobbled by a Cleveland defender and allowed Hancock to score the winning run.

“Kelsay got on with a little bunt,” Hicks said. “She was standing up on the pitch out. I had told her to stand up, lay back and take it. The first pitch she put it down. Coach Fletcher did a very good job sending Kelsay on to second which really put us in the position that we were in.”

Hancock said Hicks told her to “run hard, believe in yourself and be smart on the bases like we know how to do.”

When the ball is put in play, they were going hard is what Hicks had told the team.

“I had a big feeling that if Hillari put it in play, we would score. We pretty much had speed on all bases,” she said. “I had a lot of confidence that we were going to pull it off in an extra innings especially when he started walking and trying to put the force on. Chelsea just happened to get that walk and that put us in a great position with Hillari.”

Hicks said it was up to Plummer to make something happen.

“What she did is what she always does. She put the ball in play hard and they bobbled it. I think that showed that we are a scrappy team and a lot of people think we can’t do it but the girls think they can and that’s what matters.”

Hicks changed the batting order in the seventh to show a different look.

“I started off the seventh inning with Paige,” Hicks said. “I knew they were thinking a slapper was coming up with Haley and Paige, who had been hitting the ball really well. I started off with Paige to get a runner over to third base.”

Hicks praised all the batters for hitting well even though the Cleveland defense made some plays.

“Cleveland had a very good pitcher,” Hicks said. “She has played on one of my traveling teams before. She got frustrated and there are times you do that. That was good for Kenzi to be in that situation for when they come in to it later.”

The Lady Tigers had five hits, two runs and four errors while Cleveland had three hits, one run and one error.

Robison had two hits and one run. Hancock had one run, one walk and one RBI (run-batted-in).Newcomb had two hits. Fortune had one hit and a walk. Plummer had one RBI. Reed struck out three, and allowed three hits and one run.

The Lady Tigers will be back in action to host Grenada in the Strike Out For Cancer game beginning at 5 p.m. with the jr. varsity game.