South Alabama has shot at finals

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oviedo, Fla., awaits the winner of the loser’s bracket 8:30 a.m. championship game tonight at 5:30 in the 2011 Babe Ruth 12U Softball World Series finals. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Oviedo, Fla., scored four runs in the first inning, and walked away with a 6-2 victory over South Alabama Monday night.

With this loss, the host team will play Lodi, Calif., today at 8:30 a.m. in the loser’s bracket championship game for an opportunity to play in the 2011 Babe Ruth 12U World Series finals.

South Alabama coach Candace Tucker said when the team trails early in a game, it’s “hard for us to come back.”

“The girls get a little mental, and it’s hard to pull them back in batting, and it’s like that even when it’s early in the game,” she said.

South Alabama made its way to play against Oviedo when it beat Othello, Wash., 2-0 Sunday night in a defensive battle.

Oviedo, Fla. 6, South Alabama 2

When the contest began, a steady drizzle started to fall, causing the balls to become unmanageable on the mound and in the field.

“We got in a little trouble with our pitching with the rain and everything,” Tucker said. “We just couldn’t quite battle back from it.”

Oviedo scored one run in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead.

South Alabama cut the lead back to four runs in the third, scoring one run.

The Florida team made it a 6-1 game in the fourth inning when Morgan Murphy scored from third base on an error.

Getting a fast start every game is always a goal for Oviedo, coach Steve Miller said.

“Our goal every game is to try and start fast, and if it doesn’t work out for us, just to stay calm because it’s a long game,” Miller said. “We were fortunate in that first inning to put some runs on the board, and put some pressure on South Alabama and were able to hold them off.”

Oviedo’s Taryn Wheeler had eight strike outs and allowed one run on two hits in four innings to get the win.

Natalie Murphy was 2-for-4 with two singles; Morgan Murphy was 2-for-2 with one single and one triple; Gillian Faberlle was 1-for-3 with one single and two RBIs; Wheeler, Tatiana Escudero, Payton Germer and Anne-Marie Watson all had one RBI each for Oviedo.

South Alabama scored one run early in the top of the third inning, and one run in the top of the sixth inning.

Tucker said she was glad to see her girls never give up, despite the score.

“I was proud of them in the end getting runners on base just trying to battle,” she said. “That shows me a lot of fight, so I’m excited about that.”

South Alabama’s Molly Stewart, Sarah Langford and Taylor McGhee had one hit each.

Hayden Willis allowed four runs on two hits, and Colby Adams allowed two runs on five hits for South Alabama.

One good thing about today’s match-up against the team from California is that South Alabama’s top two pitchers will be rested and ready to go for the team, Tucker said.

“They’re clear and ready to go,” Tucker said. “I feel good about it going in, if we come ready to play in the morning.

“We need to jump on them early and hit the ball,” she said. “If our defense will stand and our pitching stays where it’s been — we’ve just got to hit the ball and score some runs.”

Miller said it’s great to be in the finals of the World Series — a first for a team from Florida and a team from the league.

“It’s outstanding,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and the oppportuinty to be the first team from Florida ever to win the World Series — we’re hoping that it happens.”

Oviedo awaits the winner of the South Alabama-Lodi game at 5:30 tonight for the finals.

South Alabama 2, Othello, Wash. 0

South Alabama scored its winning run in the top of the fifth inning when Stewart hit an RBI double.

Earlier in the tournament, the team from Washington beat the host team 3-0 when it went up early due to errors.

South Alabama held Othello at bay throughout the game, scooping up ground balls and throwing runners out trying to get on base.