Pitch­ing, de­fense, clutch hits lift Cal­houn past Lady Tigers

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY - By Tyler Ser­ritt

Bol­stered by a steady pitch­ing per­for­mance, a few stel­lar de­fen­sive stretches and a pair of op­por­tunis­tic hits, the Cal­houn Lady Jack­ets cruised past Adairsville 3-1 on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

The con­test was largely de­fined by the Lady Tigers ( 2- 7, 1-4 in 6-AAA) strug­gle to gen­er­ate con­sis­tent of­fense against Cal­houn ( 4- 2, 2- 2 in 6-AAA) start­ing pitcher Lona Sims, who held the op­po­si­tion to one run over seven strong in­nings in the cir­cle. Dis­play­ing great ef­fi­ciency with her pitches, Sims struck out one and yielded only two hits while nav­i­gat­ing around a cou­ple of late Adairsville run-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to help the Lady Jack­ets to their fourth con­sec­u­tive win.

“Lona was ex­cel­lent out there for us to­day,” Cal­houn head coach Diane Smith said. “There were a cou­ple tough sit­u­a­tions that she had to work her around, but I was proud of the way she bat­tled and hung in there. It was only her sec­ond start of the sea­son, and she just keeps get­ting better.”

Sims was backed by a cou­ple high­light-wor­thy field­ing plays from the Lady Jack­ets de­fense that ul­ti­mately erased scor­ing threats.

Left fielder Espee Reyes no­tably de­liv­ered two clutch, pin­point throws into sec­ond base, the first af­ter se­cur­ing a deep fly ball in the third and forc­ing a dou­ble play, which was fol­lowed by her scoop­ing up a hit in the fourth and wip­ing out the baserun­ner dur­ing her at­tempt to snatch an ex­tra base. Sec­ond base­man Anna Tay­lor also pre­vented a po­ten­tial base hit with an im­pres­sive div­ing snag on a ball laced near the sec­ond base gap.

“Most of the time to win a game you have to not only make the rou­tine plays, but you also have to make a cou­ple ex­cep­tional ones,” Smith said. “I think our de­fense is one of our strengths, and we will have to con­tinue field­ing the ball like we did to­day to be suc­cess­ful.”

Al­though Cal­houn stranded a hand­ful of baserun­ners across mul­ti­ple frames, the lineup pro­duced an ad­e­quate amount of timely hits to scratch across three runs against Adairsville starter Victoria O’Neal. The of­fense was sparked by lead­off hit­ter Car­lie Hen­der­son, who fin­ished the con­test a per­fect 3-for-3 with two sin­gles, a dou­ble and two runs scored.

In the bot­tom por­tion of the first in­ning, Hen­der­son reached base by leg­ging out an in­field sin­gle. Af­ter Hen­der­son ad­vanced to third base on a passed ball, Sims helped her own cause by de­posit­ing an RBI-sin­gle into the right-field grass to help Cal­houn jump out to a 1-0 lead.

The Lady Jack­ets tacked on vi­tal in­surance runs in the bot­tom of the sixth. Af­ter Molly Walker ini­ti­ated the ac­tion by push­ing through a base hit, Mat­tie Jane Mash­burn ad­vanced the run­ner with a sacri­fice bunt, Reyes reached on an er­ror and Hen­der­son was walked to move run­ners into a threat­en­ing po­si­tion for Erin Barnes. Barnes de­liv­ered by slic­ing a two-RBI dou­ble into right-cen­ter to pad the Lady Jack­ets lead at 3-0.

The two runs proved in­valu­able, with Adairsville tal­ly­ing what would have been the ty­ing run in the fi­nal in­ning off of an RBIbunt by Cortni Ja­cobs that cut the ad­van­tage to 3-1. How­ever, due to the sep­a­ra­tion re­cently gained on the score­board, Sims was able to swiftly shut the door on the rally by in­duc­ing a fly ball out from the next bat­ter.

“We left run­ners too many run­ners on base each in­ning, but I was happy that we were able to come up with those cru­cial hits when we needed them,” Smith said.

“It’s still early in the sea­son, so we have to get a lot better at tak­ing ad­van­tage of run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. There is still a lot of room to grow, but I was pleased with the over­all team ef­fort.”

The Lady Jack­ets were on the road on Thurs­day for a Re­gion 6- AAA show­down against LFO, a re­match of last year’s re­gion cham­pi­onship se­ries. (For de­tails on that game, see Wed­nes­day’s Cal­houn Times.) They will be back at home on Mon­day to host North Mur­ray at 5:30 p.m.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Car­lie Hen­der­son (right) makes a catch in cen­ter field as sec­ond base­man Anna Tay­lor looks on dur­ing Mon­day’s game.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Erin Barnes con­nects for a two-RBI sin­gle in the sixth in­ning of Mon­day’s game.

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