|Devilettes finished by McKenzie slam |
|Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 4:10 pm |
With one swing, McKenzie ‘slam’med the door on South Fulton’s bid to return to the state softball tournament.
South Fulton’s Paxton Sisson swings during Monday’s Region 7A semifinals
Freshman Jesse Elliott hit a two-out grand slam in the sixth inning to rally McKenzie to a 5-4 upset Monday that ended the Devilettes’ season in the Region 7A semifinals.
Elliott’s bases-loaded home run on a 3-2 pitch carried just over the leftfield fence and was the only solidly-struck ball against ace SF hurler Haley McKinney, who allowed just three bloop singles and a bunt hit otherwise in the heartbreaking loss.
The Devilettes end their season and a run of four straight trips to the sectional that includes the program’s sixth state tournament berth last spring with a 24-8 record.
McKenzie (19-8) will play District 13A and Carroll County rival Huntingdon (32-5) Wednesday for the regional championship with both teams then moving on to sectional play Friday. The Fillies punched their region title and sectional tickets by beating Union City, 6-2, in Monday’s other semifinal and have beaten the Lady Rebels in all four previous meetings this year.
South Fulton and McKinney cruised into the sixth inning of Monday’s game vs. McKenzie — the fourth straight year the teams have met at this juncture — with a 3-0 lead.
The Devilettes had taken a second-inning lead on Marina Barclay’s solo homer, then added to that advantage when McKinney helped herself with a two-out RBI single that plated Jennifer Allen in the third, and a run-scoring groundout by Savannah Larson that chased home Michelle Johnson who ran for Paxton Sisson after the SF catcher had doubled to lead off the fourth.
McKinney had retired 10 straight entering the sixth and had given up just one hit with nine strikeouts before walking the Lady Rebel leadoff hitter Kelsey Carr in the fateful frame.
A bloop single by Hannah Potts and another walk to Travatia Bowden loaded the bases with nobody out. Sadie Laws then lofted a sacrifice fly to bring home Carr and cut the deficit to 3-1 before Crystal Doub bunted for a hit to again jam the sacks.
McKinney struck out Emma Arnold for the second out of the inning and was on the verge of escaping the jam before Elliott launched a pitch that landed over the 200-foot mark on the leftfield fence set off a wild Lady Rebel celebration and deflate both the Big Red players and their large contingent of supporters.
“Walks are never good in that situation, and so many times they end up coming back to bite you in close games,” SF head coach Curt Lee said when discussing McKenzie’s game-deciding rally. “They were able to piece together a dink hit, a bunt and a couple of walks, but then got the big hit when they really needed it with the home run. Turns out, that was the only one they needed.”
South Fulton did not go down without a fight, bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth after Barclay’s ringing double, and then getting within the final margin when Macy Maxwell drove in Desiray Sturgeon with a two-out single in the seventh to make it 5-4.
Sisson though, the team’s lone senior and the heart and soul of the club as a veteran catcher, lined out to Carr at second to end the game and bring to a sudden halt the Devilettes’ 2011 campaign.
“Haley pitched well enough to win,” Lee continued. “All year long we’ve struggled to add on runs by not getting the big hit with two outs, but today, it seemed like we never got anything going until we had two outs. That’s awful late in an inning to do anything.
“I’m disappointed, just like the girls are, at our season being over and us not advancing on — especially for Paxton. She’s given our program everything she’s had and is the consummate team player. I’ll be interested to see now if the rest of the girls are as hurt as badly by this as she is. They all could take and learn a lot from her and her work ethic and how she’s carried herself.”
South Fulton ended up outhitting McKenzie 8-5, with McKinney going 3-for-4 and Barclay getting two of her club’s three extra-base hit with the aforementioned dinger and a double.
McKinney (16-5) ended up with 11 strikeout and four walks.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.