|Past Devilette triumphs a factor in clutch vs. UC |
If experience is indeed the best teacher, South Fulton gave Union City a good lesson Tuesday in the District 14A Softball Tournament.
Union City’s Allison McCullough slides into the tag of South Fulton catcher Paxton Sisson Tuesday night during the Devilettes’ 5-0 victory.
The Devilettes, seeking their 10th district title in the past 11 seasons, leaned heavily on that experience by making big plays at the most opportune times while beating UC 5-0 in the winner’s bracket final.
The victory left SF (20-7) as the lone unbeaten in the double-elimination event and puts the Lady Devils within one more win of another district championship. South Fulton also locked up a berth in the regional tournament next week with the triumph and reached the 20-victory mark in a season for the ninth time in 10 seasons under head coach Curt Lee.
Though down afterward, Union City picked itself up off the deck and earned another shot at the Devilettes by then edging Gleason 4-3 in the loser’s bracket finals Tuesday.
The Lady Twisters (22-14) are now assured of a region tourney invite, too, and can snatch the district title away from South Fulton by beating the host Red Devils twice on Thursday in the championship round. The first of those two games is to begin at 5 p.m.
Having split a pair of one-run regular season meetings, the two Obion County rivals — who met at the same juncture last season — were locked in another tight battle and scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth Tuesday.
Prior to that, Union City had had the better chances to break through, but had a runner thrown out at the plate, two more erased at third base and another tagged at second to snuff out multiple scoring threats.
In the home half of the fifth, the Devilettes — who hadn’t had a hit since the first — put together a couple of timely base knocks to get on the board, then struck for four runs in the sixth to essentially put away the Lady Tornadoes.
Anna Seratt’s run-scoring single drove home Katie Bivens with SF’s first tally and a ringing two-run triple by Kayla Davidson chased home eighth-graders Kaci Daughtery and Haley McKinney, both of whom had drawn walks.
Davidson later slid under a tag and safely into home plate with South Fulton’s fourth run and Bivens then completed the scoring by dashing home following a wild pitch.
And while this particular edition of Devilettes is generally considered in a rebuilding mode with three eighth-grade starters and youth at several other positions, both Lee and UC skipper Shane Sisco said the decade-long success of SF played a role in the final outcome.
“I think our tradition does give us an edge in situations like today,” Lee claimed. “This is one of my youngest teams, and they probably are the least talented physically than any I’ve had. I think people tend to dismiss us sometimes because of those two things, and the girls have played with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder trying to prove they are deserving of being a district champion.
“Today we made plays that teams who’ve been in these type of pressure situations in district tournaments make. We played good defense in the field when we had to, and we came up with a pair of key hits at critical times.”
Sisco echoed those thoughts.
“The difference in the game was, when they had opportunities to make plays, they did, and when we had those chances, we didn’t,” the Lady Twister coach claimed. “They’ve had success in the past because they’ve made plays at critical times and, give Curt and his kids credit, they made some big ones in the field and at the plate when they were in those situations.”
The first of SF’s timely defensive plays was made in the second inning when Daughtery gunned down Allison McCullough at the plate from centerfield when McCullough tried to score from second on Karly Hollis’ hit. Hollis was then called out trying to steal third later in the inning.
Union City, which put its leadoff batter on base in five of the seven innings, had another runner erased at third in the fourth when McCullough was doubled off the bag following a bases-loaded popup hit by Jade Davis.
McKinney relieved South Fulton starter Melissa Reams with two on and nobody out in the fourth and escaped that jam and another sticky spot in the sixth to get credit for the pitching victory. She struck out five and walked one to improve to 4-5.
Hollis was charged with the loss and was chased from the hill during the Devilettes’ aforementioned four-run sixth. She struck out six and walked three before getting relief help from Corey Anne Youree.
McCullough had two singles as the Lady Tornadoes actually out-hit SF 7-6.
Union City 4, Gleason 3
McCullough drove home Youree from second with a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh to keep the Lady Tornadoes alive.
Gleason had tied the count in the top of the frame when Riley Auvenshine blooped a two-run hit to shallow center with two outs.
Youree then drew a one-out walk, was picked off first but still made it safely to second, and raced home on McCullough’s solid shot to rightfield off Taylor Stout.
Hollis is now 16-7 after relieving Youree in the sixth. Youree had fanned four, walked just one and allowed four hits in her 51/3 innings of work.
UC’s offense consisted of seven singles, three by Hollis and two by McCullough. Pinch-hitter Jasmine Davis had an RBI hit in the sixth.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.