DALLARDSVLLE — Big Sandy survived a late surge by Apple Springs to defeat the Lady Eagles 10-9 in district softball action at the Ladycats’ home field Tuesday.
Big Sandy had fallen behind 3-1 early in the contest, but outscored their opponent 7-1 over four frames to lead 8-4 heading into the seventh.
In the top half of the inning, the Lady Eagles connected just one clean hit, but were able to move base runners via three costly errors and two walks. The damage resulted in five runs and a 9-8 lead for the visitors.
“It was just a lack of focus,” commented Ladycat head coach Mark Young, whose team improved to 3-2 in league play with the come-from-behind win.
“I’m just proud of my girls, they didn’t quit. That’s something we’ve been working on, just trying to not ever give up. Anything can happen if you put the bat on the ball. I was proud of them.”
It took just four batters for the home team to secure the win in the bottom of the seventh. Jenny Harbuck led off the frame, hit by a pitch. She later advanced to third on two passed balls.
With one out in the inning, Kalin Cristan drew a walk to put runners on the corners. A ground out at second base allowed Harbuck to score and tie the game at 9-9, while a throwing error to third on the same play allowed Cristan to score the winning run.
Coach Young and the Ladycats are trying to secure one of four playoff spots. “We beat Centerville and Spurger, and lost to Colmesneil and Groveton,” said Young.
“Groveton is leading the district right now and Colmesneil is second. The Colmesneil game got away from us. We had a lot of walks, but the Groveton game we lost 6-2. I was very proud of my girls, they played just about as good as we could have played. They were just better than us, so we’re sitting tied for third right now with Apple Springs.”
If work ethic pays off, expect the Ladycats to be in the thick of the playoff race. “We have really been working out trying to get stronger,” said Young. “We flip 18-wheeler tires four days a week and they’re up to almost 30 each. It has really made a big difference.
“Our girls have really gotten stronger, just throwing and hitting, and just the mental side of it. They’re more confident when they’re stronger.”
The Ladycats not only overcame the seventh inning rally, but an earlier 3-1 deficit, as well.
Trailing in the bottom of the second, Big Sandy scored two runs to knot the score at three apiece. Caitlyn Cain led off the inning with a single to right and later scored on a ground out by Allison Farrar.
Jasmine Luna, who boarded the bag at first when hit by a pitch, would score after advancing a base on the Farrar grounder and two passed balls, the latter of which plated her for the 3-3 tie.
The defense did their job, recording six consecutive outs in the third and fourth innings. Farrar, in the circle for the Ladycats, scooped up two grounders and second baseman Harbuck fielded a grounder to retire the side in order during the third.
The Lady Eagles went down in the fourth on a strikeout by Farrar and fly balls to Cristan in left and Cain in center field.
Meanwhile, the offense doubled their lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the third when they took advantage of three walks and three Lady Eagle errors.
Marie Parkinson was the first Ladycat to score. She reached on a one-out walk and advanced to third on a steal and passed ball. An error at second plated the Ladycat third baseman for a 4-3 lead.
Cain and Luna, who reached on errors, both scored on wild pitches before the Eagles ended the frame with a strikeout and infield grounder.
Big Sandy added a run in the bottom of the fourth. Leadoff batter Cristan boarded when the catcher missed a third strike. She advanced to third on a wild pitch and passed ball. A sacrifice grounder by Brooke Findley plated Cristan for a 7-3 margin.
Apple Springs made it a 7-4 margin in the top half of the fifth, scoring one run off one hit, one walk and one Ladycat error.
Big Sandy took advantage of two Lady Eagle errors to double their lead 8-4 in the bottom of the fifth. Leadoff batter Cain used her speed to beat out a bobble at second base to reach first safely, then stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
With just one out in the inning, Cain scored on an error at shortstop. Further damage was halted when the Eagles caught pop flies at second base and behind the plate.
The seventh inning started on a promising note when shortstop Samantha Horton scooped up a grounder and fired to Kelsey Moore at first base. However, one hit, two walks and three errors later, the visitors plated five runs to gain a 9-8 lead.
The Eagles scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk and plated four more on a pair of outfield errors.
The Ladycats were able to get out of the inning on a strikeout by Farrar and a fly ball to Cain in center field.