Comeback kids

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pleasant Home players celebrate as the final two runs come in in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday night. The Lady Eagles came back from two three-run deficits to beat Brantley in the first round of the Class 1A, Area 3 tournament. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Copeland’s 2-run double lifts Pleasant Home over Brantley, 5-4

Pleasant Home’s Ashley Copeland came through in a big way for the Lady Eagles on Tuesday night.

The junior catcher hit a walk off two-run double to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning to help lift PHS to a 5-4 victory over Brantley in the winner’s bracket of the Class 1A, Area 3 tournament.

“I like pressure,” Copeland said. “I was thinking I’ve got to hit this ball to make my team go to state.

“I didn’t think I hit it that well, but then I saw it and was like, ‘yes,'” she said. “I just ran as fast as I could.”

Copeland batted in lead-off hitter Caitlin Jernigan and Anna Bulger, who reached on a walk and a single, respectively, with no outs.

“Ashley’s good for that,” PHS coach Bradley Stephens said. “She’s a good hitter. She has been all year.

“When you’ve got someome like that you know you can depend on, you know they’re going to come through,” he said.

Copeland led the Lady Eagles and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.

On the defensive front, Lady Eagles junior pitcher Emily Byrd faced two three-run Brantley leads throughout the contest, but didn’t falter to claim the win.

Byrd faced 11 batters in the last three innings, and only allowed one hit. She pitched a complete game and allowed four earned runs on nine hits and struck out four.

“We were all like up and pumped up,” Byrd said about her teammates. “We were all there and supporting each other. It just made it easier to pitch.

“(PHS assistant coach and pitch caller) Mr. Frankie (Wiggins) and I just got our pitching going and adjustments for the umpire,” she said. “We figured that out. We just started pitching better.”

With this victory, Pleasant Home earned a berth to play in the south regional tournament next week in Gulf Shores. The Lady Eagles will play Brantley on Thursday at 4:30 for the area championship. BHS beat McKenzie 6-4 in the loser’s bracket elimination game.

Pleasant Home’s Ashley Copeland hit a two-run double to help lift the Lady Eagles to a 5-4 win Tuesday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

The Lady Eagles trailed the entire game until the bottom of the seventh to the Lady Bulldogs, who sparked ahead 3-0 in the first inning and then 4-1 after the fourth inning.

BHS made some stellar defensive plays in the field, notably a force out at second base from Kelsey Hall, who made the force out from the ground.

Behind Brantley starting pitcher Alex Wilcox, the Lady Bulldogs fought like their mascots, Stephens said.

“I was telling one of the parents over there that Brantley is the epitome of their mascot,” he said. “They’re tenacious. They never back down. They are not afraid of anyone. What they don’t understand is why they’re losing to someone because they’re so used to winning at everything.”

The Lady Eagles cut Brantley’s lead to 3-1 in the third inning on an RBI double from Copeland that scored Bulger.

But it was in the top half of the third that Stephens said he saw that his team was turning things around.

“Brianna Dozier made a heck of a stop up the middle between short and third and threw the girl out at first,” he said. “I knew then that the girls are still here.”

In the fifth, Bulger hit an RBI single to score Jernigan to give the Lady Eagles a 4-2 deficit.

PHS scored its third run off of an RBI sac-grounder by Helena Weaver.

“Sometimes you’ve got to do what you got to do to win,” Stephens said. “That’s what we did. We’ve got to get as many wins as possible. These girls are used to winning.”

Brantley’s three runs in the first came on an RBI single from Amahni Upshaw, and a two-run double from Jessica Hemeling. The Lady Bulldogs’ fourth run came in the fourth inning on an RBI double from Wilcox.

Other than Copeland, Bulger had went 3-for-4 with an RBI; Byrd and Dozier went 2-for-3 each.

Wilcox struck out five and allowed 11 hits an four walks in the loss.

Sydnee Bryson and Hemeling went 2-for-4 each to lead BHS.

In the first game of the day, Brantley beat McKenzie 16-0 in five innings.