Regional champions

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pleasant Home’s Lady Eagles celebrate capturing the Class 1A South Regional Softball championship Saturday in Gulf Shores. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Pleasant Home wins 4 straight, beats Kinston in finals

GULF SHORES — With little sleep from playing a late game the night before, the Pleasant Home Lady Eagles powered their way to a 4-0 victory over Kinston to win the Class 1A South Regional Softball Tournament on Saturday.

The Lady Eagles scored four runs in the fourth inning, and held on late to beat the Lady Bulldogs for the second time in a row in the tournament. PHS beat KHS 9-2 late Friday night in the winner’s bracket semifinals.

PHS coach Bradley Stephens said he felt like that one good inning was all it was going to take to win against the Lady Bulldogs.

“I told the girls before this tournament started that I felt like that this tournament this week was for us to win,” Stephens said. “It was just a matter of that we had to take it. We had to take it.

“It wasn’t going to be given to us just because we’re Pleasant Home,” he said.

During the fourth inning, PHS scored three of the runs with one out, with the last run coming on a stolen base after the second out was recorded.

Brianna Dozier, Helena Weaver and Abigail Kelley hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases to start the fourth inning.

Then, Jordan McGhee, Caitlin Jernigan and Anna Bulger hit back-to-back-to-back RBIs to put the Lady Eagles ahead 3-0.

As Kelley rounded third on Bulger’s sac-grounder, she then stole home to get the fourth run of the inning.

“Our offense came around when we had to have offense,” Stephens said. “That is Pleasant Home at its full potential.”

At the regional tournament, PHS only allowed two runs — to Kinston in a 9-2 win late Friday night — and won four straight to win the title. This was the Lady Eagles’ 12th straight appearance at the tournament.

Tournament most valuable player Emily Byrd, a junior, helped lead the Lady Eagles to each of their wins on the mound.

Byrd struck out four and gave up nine hits in seven innings during the championship game against KHS.

She admitted that she didn’t know the MVP award was going to be given to her.

“I was kind of surprised,” Byrd said. “I didn’t know how they were going to do it. It felt good, though.”

Kinston battled throughout the game, finding ways to get runners on base, but the Lady Eagles’ defense was too much.

Jernigan started a successful double play in the third inning, and helped keep KHS runners from getting passed second base with good teamwork with Bulger. In the outfield, PHS only let one Lady Bulldogs hit hit the fence.

Byrd led PHS (29-13) behind the plate and went 2-for-3. Jernigan, Bulger, Raven Woods, Dozier, Weaver, Kelley and McGhee had one hit each.

Erin Bowden went 3-for-3 to lead KHS. Macie Sanders and Callie Weeks had two hits each.

Added Stephens: “I gave this team to the Lord at the beginning of the year,” he said. “He’s carried them through, and he’s helped them play to the best of their potential.”

Pleasant Home will face top-ranked Ragland at 9 a.m. Thursday in its first game of the state tournament at Lagoon Park on Field No. 6.