10th consecutive berth

Published 7:18 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pleasant Home's Raven Woods (21) slides into home plate during the loser's bracket championship game on Saturday of the Class 1A South Regional Tournament in Gulf Shores.

GULF SHORES — Parents, fans and other team spectators sat back and took in the first-game spectacle between Pleasant Home and Kinston on Saturday, and no one left dissatisfied.

The Lady Eagles and Lady Bulldogs went 12 rounds in a heated battle between two teams that know each other.

Kinston ended the duel, scoring two runs in the bottom of the 12th inning on a passed ball and an error to win 7-6, and ran away with the Class 1A South Regional Tournament title with a 9-5 win over eventual runner-up Pleasant Home in the finals.

After suffering the one-run defeat to the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Eagles bounced back to beat Sweet Water 11-7 in the loser’s bracket championship game to earn their 10th consecutive trip to the state tournament this week in Montgomery.

“”We were tired, but we bounced back and took care of business against Sweet Water,” PHS head softball coach Bradley Stephens said. “It was exhausting. It was a physical wear-and-tear on the body for 12 innings. It was a dog fight. When you’ve been in a dog fight, you can’t walk away from it without a few battle wounds.”

Kinston 7, Pleasant Home 6 in 12 innings

Pleasant Home trailed 2-0 in the top of the fourth, but tied the game up on an RBI single by Byrd, and a Kinston throwing error.

The Lady Eagles trudged ahead 5-2 late in the contest, but errors in the bottom of the sixth inning allowed the Lady Bulldogs to score three runs, and a strong defensive effort by both teams in the seventh inning forced the game into extra innings.

Despite the loss, a key inning for Pleasant Home came in the bottom of the 11th.

Kinston had bases loaded, and the first two outs came on forces at home.

With Fuller running out of gas, the final out of the inning came on a grounder to short stop to go into the 12th.

Pleasant Home scored its go-ahead run when Kaitlin Brookshire came home on a passed ball to take a 6-5 lead.

Byrd came in to relieve Fuller in the bottom of the 12th, and with two on base and no outs, Brookshire caught the first out in left field.

On a routine pop up that turned into an error, Kinston eased home to tie the game up 6-6 with Erin Bowden at the plate.

Bowden connected on a pitch, and hit an RBI single to help lead her team to another state tournament appearance.

The last time Kinston was at the state tournament was in 2009.

Pleasant Home’s Brentin Fuller threw nine innings in the loss to Kinston.

Pleasant Home 11, Sweet Water 7

In a crucial game where mental fortitude was needed the most, the Lady Eagles took an early 4-0 lead, and held on late to beat Sweet Water.

Stephens said the team played well against Sweet Water, but the defense made “more errors than we normally do.”

“We just started to make errors normally when they wouldn’t make them. That was odd,” he said. “I was very secure in our defense, and for some reason we made more errors than we normally do.”

Kinston 9, Pleasant Home 5

Kinston’s Macie Sanders struck out five and allowed five runs in seven innings in the win.

Callie Weeks was 2-for-5 with two runs; and Madison Weeks, Sanders, Chelbie Fuller, Emily Mock and Bowden scored one run each for Kinston.

Raven Woods was 2-for-4, and Megan Cook was 2-for-3 for the Lady Eagles.

Kinston’s Sara Mock, who earned the win for the Lady Bulldogs in the first game, won the most valuable player award at the closing ceremonies Saturday night.

Pleasant Home (22-15) will play Waterloo this Friday morning at 10:30 in the Class 1A state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.