Champ Devilettes, UC take on usual roles

Champ Devilettes, UC take on usual roles
Champ Devilettes, UC take on usual roles

South Fulton’s Desiray Sturgeon keeps her hand on the bag, while Union City’s Hannah Jackson reaches back for a tag attempt during Saturday’s District 14A title game.
Though they took decidedly-different paths than usual, both South Fulton and Union City find themselves at a familiar crossroads.
The Devilettes won their fifth straight district tournament championship — their first in that span from the loser’s bracket — and forced UC to settle for a bridesmaid role for the fourth time during that same period with a 2-0 victory over the Lady Tornadoes in the 14A title game Saturday at Graham Park.
The result continues what has been a routine for the two Obion County entries at the next juncture of the postseason.
SF (24-7) will enjoy the homefield advantage of district champions and host McKenzie today at 5 in the Region 7A semifinals, while Union City (20-15) must travel to 13A titleist Huntingdon for the fourth time in five seasons for a 2 o’clock matchup.
The start time for both the Twister softball and baseball games (also 2 p.m.) vs. the Mustangs has been adjusted to accomodate Huntingdon graduation ceremonies tonight.
South Fulton continued its stranglehold on the district championship on Saturday by completing a three-game do-or-die run out of the loser’s bracket after being put there earlier in the event via 2-0 loss to UC.
“We talked about that after Tuesday, and I told the girls they had a chance to do something that none of the other teams have done by coming out of the loser’s bracket and winning,” South Fulton head coach Curt Lee — whose teams have won district titles in 12 of his 13 seasons — said afterward.
“That makes this one a little different. I’m obviously proud of the girls because they showed some mental toughness to do this.”
The Devilettes won twice on Thursday — against Halls and Union City — then got a day’s rest when the championship game was postponed Friday by rain before beating the Lady Tornadoes for the fifth time in six meetings in a well-played game by both sides.
Each team made just one error — a far-cry from Thursday’s debacle in which UC was guilty of a dozen misplays in a 17-2 loss to SF.
And while obviously disappointed at the final score, Lady Twister coach Shane Sisco did praise his troops for bouncing back from that embarrassment and giving themselves a chance at winning on Saturday.
“We were more focused, and we made the routine plays that we didn’t on Thursday when things got out of hand,” said Sisco, who put his club through fielding drills immediately after that Thursday loss. “I think we actually hit (SF pitcher Haley) McKinney better today than we have all year, but we couldn’t get the key hits.
“Hat’s off to Curt and his bunch though. It’s tough to come out of the loser’s bracket and win this thing, but his kids really showed good toughness and got the job done.”
With scoring chances at a minimum for each team, South Fulton’s ability to get two timely hits and the pitching of McKinney proved to be the ultimate difference.
McKinney actually drove in the only run she’d need in the first when her sinking line drive just eluded UC second baseman Brittany Parker and drove in Kacie Daugherty. Daughtery had smacked a line drive off the mit of Tornado third baseman Angela Chesteen to reach with one out, then stole second and third.
The Devilettes picked up what turned out to be an insurance tally in the third when cleanup hitter Macy Maxwell dumped a two-out RBI single into rightfield to push home Daugherty a second time. Daugherty had reached on a fielder’s choice after Desiray Sturgeon was thrown at second ahead of her.
McKinney (16-4), who shut out Union City for the third time this season and has an earned run average well under a run-per-game, essentiallly shut down the Tornadoes’ best two scoring chances herself.
She fanned UC batters with two runners in scoring position in the fourth, and with a runner at second on two occasions. The last of her seven strikeouts ended the contest.
Union City’s Sadie Hollis (13-10) pitched well enough herself to get the victory. The sophomore righthander gave up just five hits and one walk while whiffing three. She retired the final eight SF batters.
Marina Barclay’s double was the Devilettes’ only extra-base hit among South Fulton’s five base knocks. Sturgeon, Daugherty, Maxwell and McKinney all had singles.
Chesteen had a double and a single to account for half of Union City’s hit total. Parker and Claire Jackson had the other two Lady Tornadoes safeties.
McKinney, Daugherty, Maxwell and Paxton Sisson all were named to the all-tournament team for SF in postgame ceremonies while Hollis, Chesteen and Taylor Hargrove made the list for Union City.
Lee was chosen as coach of the year.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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