Lady Jack­ets earn ex­tra-in­nings vic­tory over ri­val Sono­rav­ille

Cal­houn’s Walker has walk-off hit after Lady Phoenix rally to tie game

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

Two top con­tenders and ri­vals went bat­tled like it could’ve been a re­gion cham­pi­onship game on Thurs­day as it may well a pre­view of one.

Cal­houn and Sono­rav­ille dealt big blows on the di­a­mond with the Lady Jack­ets gain­ing an early lead and Sono­rav­ille bat­tling back to tie and force ex­tras. But Cal­houn got a clutch eighth-in­ning, two- out sin­gle from se­nior Molly Walker to drive in the gamewin­ning run and send her team to a 4-3 vic­tory on their home field.

Cal­houn coach Diane Smith said she knew Sono­rav­ille would fight back after her team earned a 3-0 lead early in the game, but she was con­fi­dent her Lady Jack­ets would have an an­swer to close out the win.

“Any time we play Sono­rav­ille, I just ex­pect them to get a big hit like that even when we have a lead,” said Smith. “We went up on them in the first, but I knew we still had a long way to go and just like I though they would Sono­rav­ille fought back to tie it. But we were able to play great de­fense and make great pitches from that point on, and (Molly’s) hit was so big in a big spot. I asked her ear­lier if I could use her in a pinch-hit­ting role in the game, and she said she felt good about it. She bat­ted a cou­ple in­nings ear­lier and put the bat on the ball for an out so I felt con­fi­dent about her hit­ting again in the eighth. And she came through for us. I’m happy and proud for her to get a hit like that in such a big game.”

Cal­houn ( 9- 2, 7- 2 in 6-AAA) jumped on top early to grab the mo­men­tum as they loaded the bases in the bot­tom of the first and Audrey Wil­banks de­liv­ered a two-out, twoRBI sin­gle to right field. The ball then got away from the de­fender, and the third Lady Jack­ets’ run came around to score to make it 3-0.

Cal­houn’s Mag­gie McBrayer and Sono­rav­ille’s Kris­ten Davis were the story from that point un­til the sixth in­ning as each ace pitcher shut the op­pos­ing of­fense down.

The Lady Phoenix ( 11- 2, 8- 1 in 6- AAA) weren’t go­ing down easy, how­ever, as they kept fight­ing and claw­ing to get baserun­ners on any way they could against McBrayer, and Shayna Dut­ton came through with a mighty swing in the bot­tom of the sixth as she sent the ball over the left-field fence and off the score­board for a three-run homer to tie it up at 3-3. Grace Crocker had walked and Davis dou­bled ear­lier in the in­ning to put run­ners at sec­ond and third with one out to set up Dut­ton’s shot.

“We bat­tled back from a rough first in­ning and kept swing­ing it,” said Sono­rav­ille coach Chad Hayes. “We gave our­selves a chance to win, but Cal­houn got one more timely hit than we did late in the game and that was the dif­fer­ence.”

After the sixth, McBrayer re­bounded by leav­ing the po­ten­tial go-ahead run on third base in each of the sev­enth and eighth in­nings by get­ting a strike­out for the fi­nal out of each frame. The sopho­more earned the win in the cir­cle go­ing all eight in­nings and al­low­ing three runs on five hits while strik­ing out eight, walk­ing four and hit­ting one bat­ter.

“When they hit that homer to tie it, I thought Mag­gie was run­ning out of gas, but she came back strong to fin­ish the game and made some big pitches,” said Smith. “When she got those strike­outs in the sev­enth and eighth to end the in­ning, it re­ally fired her up and our whole team.”

In the eighth, Lyndi Rae Davis led off the in­ning with a sin­gle, but Davis quickly re­tired the next two bat­ters. How­ever, Wil­banks came through with her sec­ond hit of the day and Molly Banks was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That set up Walker for her dra­matic, two-out, walkoff hit as she sent a hard grounder down the third base line and into the out­field to score Emma Rogers from third and send the Lady Jack­ets to the vic­tory. Rogers had come on ear­lier in the frame to cour­tesy run for Davis.

Smith said she was proud of the way her team found a way to win against such a stout op­po­nent, but she knows that this prob­a­bly won’t be the last time they see the Lady Phoenix in 2018.

“Th­ese are the top two teams in our re­gion and prob­a­bly two of the best in the state,” said Smith. “( Sono­rav­ille) al­ways brings their best against us, and we re­ally bring out the best of each other. See 2C

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Anna Tay­lor (cen­ter) slides in for a run in the first in­ning of Thurs­day’s game as Sono­rav­ille catcher San­dra Beth Pritchett re­ceives the throw.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Erin Barnes (1) slides into third base as Sono­rav­ille’s Grif­fin Holden takes the throw.

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