|Devilettes to remember; UC will forget |
|Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 1:44 pm |
|A night South Fulton will surely remember was one Union City would like to forget. |
The Devilettes won twice out of the loser’s bracket Thursday to force a final game for the District 14A softball tournament championship — edging Halls 4-3 in an elimination matchup, then routing UC 17-2 in the first game of the championship round.
A complete defensive breakdown that saw the Lady Tornadoes make a startling 12 errors aided SF’s second game explosion and came just two nights after Union City had played flawless defensively in a 2-0 upset of the four-time reigning district champs that bumped the Big Red into a do-or-die scenario.
South Fulton crawled out of that hole with essentially a doubleheader sweep on Thursday, though, claiming a nail-biting decision over Halls in which it trailed heading into the bottom of the fifth before then mercy-ruling UC — capped by an 11-run fifth that was fueled by six misplays.
Both SF (23-7) and the Lady Tornadoes (20-14) have already qualified for regional semifinal play, but will now first decide the 14A championship with host rights for Monday’s Region 7A Tournament at stake in today’s 5 p.m. matchup. The winner will host District 13A runnerup McKenzie, while the loser will play at 13A champ Huntingdon.
South Fulton has now beaten Union City in four of five meetings this season, though today’s contest will be the rubber game of three played in the district tourney.
And the difference between the two have been like daylight and dark.
UC essentially fell apart from the get-go with widespread errors in Thursday’s nightcap.
The first of those misplays hurt just as much as the last, coming just before South Fulton’s Macy Maxwell clubbed a three-run homer in her team’s first at-bat that gave the Devilettes a lead they would not lose.
South Fulton then erupted in what turned out to be its last at-bat with Paxton Sisson, Marina Barclay and Savannah Larson all roping RBI hits on chances set up by Union City mistakes.
“I think the errors really took the life out of Union City,” SF skipper Curt Lee understated afterward. “What I’m hopeful of is, that since we put some good swings on the ball, too, I’m hoping it’ll snap us out of the hitting funk we’ve been in.
“I told the kids in practice on Wednesday that we’d have to show some guts to win two games and get in the championship game Friday. We really had to claw our way for a win in the first game and manufacture some runs. We didn’t do a very good job defensively behind Haley (McKinney), but we got the job done. I’m hoping there’s a carryover from the second game through the rest of the postseason.”
On the other side of the diamond, UC head coach Shane Sisco was understandably displeased with his team’s play — as evidenced by an impromptu fielding practice he held immediately afterward.
“It almost looked like we were already satisfied because we’d beaten both Halls and South Fulton earlier in the tournament,” Sisco said. “I guess we thought we had accomplished something. We had a total lack of concentration and no focus.
“Give South Fulton credit, though. They did what they had to do to get back to the championship game. They knew coming into the first game with Halls that they had to win just to make it to the championship round and the regional tournament and they took care of business.”
Maxwell drove in four runs after ripping a double to go along with her three-run dinger — her team-best seventh of the season. Haley McKinney had a two-base hit and two RBIs, while Sisson smacked two base knocks, including a double.
SF sent 14 batters to the plate in the fifth when 11 crossed the dish.
Sara Reams (7-3) had a quality outing on the mound, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out two.
“I thought Sara did a good job of throwing strikes and making them put the ball in play,” added Lee, whose team did not commit an error.
For Union City, Kaitlyn Wheeles had two hits in an offense that produced but five singles in all. Brittany Parker drove in one Lady Tornado run and Sadie Hollis the other.
Hollis (13-9) was the victim of UC’s non-supportive defense, suffering the pitching loss. She gave up just four hits. Parker relieved in the fifth and was touched for six safeties.
SF 4, Halls 3
McKinney struck out 14, but defensive support behind her allowed Halls to carry a 3-2 lead into fifth.
Desiray Sturgeon slapped a run-scoring triple just inside the leftfield line to score Samantha Murray, who had bunted for a hit to open the inning and came home to score. Sturgeon then raced home with what was the deciding run on a wild pitch.
McKinney (15-4) fanned the side in both the first and second innings and had at least one strikeout in every frame.
Easily the most important of those strikeouts came when she caught Ashlee Smith looking with the tying run in scoring position to end the sixth.
SF had scored twice in the first after Sturgeon bunted for a hit and was joined on base by Daugherty via a fielder’s choice. Daugherty swiped second, and both she and Sturgeon came home on McKinney’s sacrifice fly — the second run scoring on a wild throw home.
Halls went ahead 3-2 in the fourth with the aid of a Devilette and three hits.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.