Monday, October 10, 2016

Tiger Softball Finishes First Non-Losing Season Since 2006

Worth County’s girls softball team finished its first non-losing season since 2006, finishing with an 11-11 mark following a 4-1 victory over archrival Albany Thursday and falling 5-2 to North Harrison Saturday for the district finals. It was the first time the softball team had played in a district championship game since 2005, and they posted their most wins in a season since 2005.

The softball team had always played well at Eagleville the last two years; they made a surprise run through the North Harrison Tournament to win it last year, catapulting themselves to a six game winning streak. They continued that trend this year, winning the North Harrison Tournament again to start the season. They continued that run again, beating Albany 4-1 in the semifinal round after getting a bye in the first round.

Albany had two chances early to take control of that game. In the first, Madalyn Rainey’s one-out walk and Maryeah Martin’s two-out single and throwing error from right fielder Rachael Gardner put runners on second and third. But after a long battle, pitcher Haley Hunt struck out Amber Davis to get out of the inning. In the third, Emily Poppa walked and Lauryn Shoush singled off left fielder Dominique Findley’s glove to put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Madalyn Rainey forced Poppa at third, Riley Houts’ fly ball to Rachael Gardner in right was too shallow to advance anyone, and Martin popped out to Sidney Troutwine at shortstop to end the top of the third with the game still scoreless.

In the fourth, Amber Davis led off with a screamer; centerfielder Anna Gladstone made a diving try for it, but missed and it dropped in for a double. Hunt and Paige Brown got into a long battle and Hunt finally struck her out for the first out. Taylor Bain and Abbey Wilson grounded out to quash the threat.

It looked like the game would remain scoreless as Payton Adwell singled, only to be picked off as the second baseman cut in behind her. Anna Gladstone reached on an error, but then was thrown out stealing. But then Haley Hunt reached on a scratch hit off Madalyn Rainey’s glove and Rachael Gardner walked. Dominique Findley hit a single to right and Hunt was safe at home on a close play. Kennedy Galanakis hit a screamer into the right field corner to clear the bases; she couldn’t believe how hard she had hit it and hesitated at second before making it to third stranding up. After the dust had settled, Worth County was up 3-0.

Albany got a chance to get back in the game in the sixth. Maryeah Martin singled and Amber Davis and Taylor Bain walked to load the bases with one out. Abbey Wilson singled just past second, but second baseman Kristin New tipped the ball. Martin scored on the play, but a charging Rachael Gardner grabbed the ball and threw out Davis at the plate in a rundown. That left the score 3-1 with runners on first and second with the lead run at the plate with two outs. Emily Poppa hit a line drive to right, Gardner made a diving try and missed. But she recovered and threw out Taylor Bain at the plate to keep Worth County’s lead at 3-1. Gardner gave Worth County an insurance run with a 275 foot home run to left field before Albany went down in order in the seventh.

It looked like Worth County’s luck on the Eagleville ball diamond would hold up Saturday. With runners on first and second and two out, Worth County got one of their patented two out rallies as Merrideth Spiers reached on an error as shortstop Emily Briggs threw away what would have been the third out as Rachael Gardner scored. As North Harrison’s fielders were not paying attention, Dominique Findley also crossed the plate as well and Worth County went up 2-0.

It looked like Worth County would steal a game from the powerhouse Shamrocks. Back in 2012, Worth County came to Conception for districts only having won four games that year, but knocked off North Harrison 11-6. Worth County’s lead stood up until the fifth inning, and it looked like it would hold at first. Addison Slaughter singled to lead off, but Brandi Rivet struck out, as did Kiley Gibson. But then Payton Craig tied the game with one swing of a bat. Audry Briggs hit a scratch hit and then Alyssa Craig hit another home run to make it 4-2 and the game had flipped on a dime. Rivet added another home run for insurance in the sixth.

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