|SF left swinging in breeze vs. Fillies |
Curt Lee knew the window of opportunity against Huntingdon all-stater Brooke Thomas would be small.
South Fulton’s Haley McKinney makes a throw to first base during the Devilettes’ loss Wednesday afternoon.
However, he didn’t expect it to be nailed shut.
South Fulton had essentially no chance against Thomas, who fanned 17 while tossing her 10th no-hitter of the spring as the Fillies blanked SF 3-0 Wednesday for the Region 7A softball championship.
The Devilettes’ path of difficulty to reach Class 1A state tournament for a sixth time became much more difficult with the setback as they now must beat two-time reigning champion Trinity Christian Academy (39-6) in Jackson Friday in order to do so. Game time for that contest is 4:30 p.m.
Thomas — with 24 wins in 30 decisions now this season for Huntingdon (29-6) — entered Wednesday’s game against South Fulton with a 0.19 earned run average.
And the hard-throwing junior was on top of her game against the Devilettes (22-9), who never got a ball out of the infield and managed just two baserunners — both via error — against her.
“I knew we’d have to play just about perfect to beat them, but I also expected us to put the ball in play a little more against her,” Lee said of Thomas’ dominating performance. “We really had no opportunities at all against her because she just overpowered us.”
South Fulton never advanced a runner past first base and had only two players get aboard — Haley McKinney with one out in the first on an error by first baseman Keliea Sullivan, and Katie Bivens in the second when Huntingdon second baseman Cassidy Morgan dropped a popup.
McKinney and Bivens, in fact, were the only two Devilettes to make solid contact against Thomas, who retired the final 17 batters she faced.
SF hurler Melissa Reams, while not as dominant, kept up her end of the deal with three shutout innings until Huntingdon scored its only earned run of the contest in the fourth.
A leadoff walk issued to Sullivan followed one out later by a ringing double over Kaitlin Turner’s head in left field by Brittney Bolen essentially gave the Fillies and Thomas the only runs she’d need.
Huntingdon scored twice more in the fifth for insurance with the aid of a Bivens’ error at shortstop with one out that turned into a runner in scoring position when a wild throw was deemed to have gone in a restricted area.
Thomas followed with a single to put runners at the corners before the most bizarre play of the game unfolded.
Heather Odom dropped down a bunt in front of home plate that Reams fielded and threw to first after looking back Brittney Coleman at third base.
Coleman made a dash for home, though, when Reams threw to Kayla Davidson at first, and made it safely when Davidson and Odom became tangled up as the SF player attempted to throw home. Amid the ensuing confusion and an argument with umpires by Lee, Thomas — who started at first — circled the bases and came in to make it 3-0.
Those tallies were merely icing on the cake, however, as Thomas fanned five of the final six batters she faced.
“You can’t give up runs and you can’t give the other teams extra outs in an inning when you know these types of games are going to come down to 1-0 or 2-1 scores,” Lee added. “We made a mistake or two in the field that cost us, but with the way Thomas handled us, it probably didn’t matter in the end.”
Reams (14-3) finished with a solid pitching line that included just four hits allowed and six strikeouts.
Lee knows his troops face another daunting task in Friday’s game against heavily-favored TCA.
“We’re just going to try to get the ball in play more, maybe bunt some and make them make plays defensively,” the SF coach claimed.
Huntingdon will host Adamsville in the other rural West Tennessee sectional.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.