Marathon victory

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

It certainly wasn’t your typical pool play game.

Straughn’s Katy Messick hit an RBI double to center field to score Kayla Messer in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Lady Tigers defeated Pleasant Home 2-1 in a marathon contest Thursday evening. The win gave Straughn a 2-0 record in Pool A play at the KLD Softball Tournament, which Straughn is hosting.

“I like that we really kept battling in that game,” Straughn coach Ray Wilson said. “We were hitting the ball hard, but (Pleasant Home’s) defense made some great plays. We just kept hitting it hard and finally were able to break through in the end.”

Straughn’s Kaitlynn Wiggins pitched all nine innings to get the win, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out 10. Pleasant Home’s Brentin Fuller took the hard-luck loss, allowing six hits and striking out four in 8.0 innings of work.

“You hate for anybody to lose that ball game,” Pleasant Home coach Jimmy Reeves said. “Brentin pitched a great game and we made some phenomenal plays on defense. We were disappointed that we couldn’t hit better, but we can improve on that.”

Stephanie Bracewell led off the game for Straughn by launching a home run to center field in the bottom of the first inning. It was the first home run of the season for the Lady Tigers.

The Lady Eagles answered right back in the top of the second inning. Kayla Woods led off with a bunt single and moved to second on an error. She advanced to third on Megan Cook’s groundout and came in to score on an RBI single from Shanda Martin.

The score remained tied 1-1 heading into the eighth inning. According to extra inning rules, each team started out its half of the inning with a runner on second base.

In the top of the eighth, Pleasant Home’s Emily Byrd started the inning on second and moved over to third when Erin Byrd bunted for a single. Kati Reeves hit a line drive to third base for an out, and Emily Byrd was doubled up for the second out. Brittany Ward followed with a single to right field, but Erin Byrd was thrown out trying to advance to third on Ward’s hit.

“We had a bad break on that pop fly that they doubled us up on,” Reeves said. “But you have to give Straughn credit. They have really done a nice job with their program and it’s always a big game for us when we play these guys.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Straughn’s Kimberly Teel started at second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Hannah Twitty. Reeves elected to intentionally walk Straughn’s next two batters to load the bases with one out. The strategy worked, as Messer lined out to Pleasant Home right fielder Gina Davis, who then threw out Teel trying to tag up and score.

Pleasant Home loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, but Wiggins buckled down to strike out Davis and Woods, and got Megan Cook to ground out for the final out.

“I wasn’t worried about Kaitlynn, I knew she still felt good late in the game,” Wilson said of the sophomore’s nine-inning performance. “We met at the mound a few times, but that was just to make sure everyone was on the same page defensively.”

The game remained low scoring thanks to strong defensive plays by both teams. Pleasant Home’s Davis made a diving catch on a line drive to end the fourth inning and her teammate Ward made a leaping catch on a liner to shortstop to end the sevent .

Straughn appeared to have taken a lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Wiggins bunted and Bracewell came around from first base to cross home plate following a bad relay throw. But umpires ruled that Wiggins was automatically out on a dead-ball call, which negated Bracewell’s advance.

Straughn will face Opp in Pool A play Saturday at 8 p.m., while Pleasant Home will face Brantley at 9:30 p.m. In earlier action Thursday night, Pleasant Home defeated Opp 3-0 and Straughn beat Brantley 6-2.

The Opp-Brantley score was not available as of press time.