On to the next one

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2012

Pleasant Home team members and parents celebrate after Ashley Waldhour scored the game-winning run on a passed ball to top Athens Bible 4-3 in the winner’s bracket Thursday of the Class 1A State Softball Tournament in Montgomery.

MONTGOMERY — Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Pleasant Home rallied to score three runs and beat Athens Bible 4-3 Thursday to advance in the winner’s bracket of the Class 1A State Softball Tournament at Lagoon Park.

With the game tied at 3-3, Lady Eagles’ pinch runner and eighth grader Ashley Waldhour scored the game-winning run on a passed ball with one out and a 2-2 count to Helena Weaver.

PHS was scoreless until the sixth inning when Abigail Kelley scored on ground out from Caitlin Jernigan. Kelley made it to second and third on stolen bases.

Then, PHS coach Bradley Stephens said the team needed to generate a little “spark.”

“We just needed a little something,” Stephens said. “They kept pushing and chugging and pushing and chugging — I just kept waiting.”

Stephens said he was reminded of the Brantley game in the area tournament, where the tenth-ranked Lady Eagles battled back scoring two runs in the final inning to top the Lady Bulldogs.

“It was flat, flat and flat,” he said about the first five innings against AB. “Coach (Frankie Wiggins) was saying we need that spark. We finally got it.”

In the first game of the day, the Lady Eagles got off to a great start with a 2-0 win over two-time defending champion Ragland.

PHS will face rival Kinston in the winner’s bracket semifinals today at 9 a.m. on Field No. 2. The last time the rivals met was in Gulf Shores, where the Lady Eagles (31-13) beat Kinston 4-0 in the south regional championship game.

“Now it’s back to the rivalry all over again,” Stephens said. “Us and Kinston. We both came in and upset two of the top teams in the state. Nobody gave us a chance.

“We’re just going to take the same approach that we did the last time we played them,” he said. “The girls are going to be up.”


Pleasant Home 4,

Athens Bible 3

Athens Bible’s Megan Davidson was pitching a no-hitter until the bottom of the seventh when Raven Woods got on base with a triple.

Lady Eagles winning pitcher Emily Byrd hit a single to score Woods to cut the Lady Trojans’ lead to 3-2.

While on base, Byrd stole second and third and scored to tie the game on an over throw from catcher Melissa Butler to third base.

Then, Brianna Dozier was walked, and eighth grader Waldhour came in to pinch run.

“I knew I had to have speed,” Stephens said. “The catcher wasn’t going to throw anybody out. Now, the pressure was back on them.

“They’ve still got to get two more outs, and so we just kept on, I sent her and she (Waldhour) took second, and then I sent her again and she took third. The pitcher felt the pressure even more, and chunked it over the batters box. It helps when you’ve got kids that can run.”

Waldhour over shot second base when she rushed over on a passed ball, but when she saw an opening on the passed ball, she took it.

“Ashley Waldour did a great job,” Stephens said.

Byrd struck out six and allowed three earned runs in seven innings to get the win for PHS.

Byrd pitched two shut out innings in the sixth and seventh, and Stephens said that was a “momentum shifter.”

“When we got three up, and three down, I think the girls knew we could do this,” he said. “We got it, and (Byrd) hit her spots and did what she needed to do.”

Jernigan went 0-for-3 with an RBI; Byrd went 1-for-3 with an RBI; and Woods went 1-for-3 with a triple.

Athens Bible scored one run in the fourth inning when Natalie Anderson hit an RBI single to score Anna Price, who reached on a walk.

The Lady Trojans added two runs in the fifth on back-to-back RBI singles from Price and Butler to build a 3-0 lead.

Anderson, Courtney Etheredge and Price had two hits each for Athens Bible.


Pleasant Home 2,

Ragland 0

Byrd pitched a three-hitter and the Lady Eagles scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to topple top-ranked Ragland Thursday.

Behind Byrd, the Lady Eagles’ defense made stellar stops in the infield and outfield.

Byrd pitched a complete game, striking out three batters and allowed one walk.

In the fifth inning, the Lady Eagles got caught in a run down that turned into a double play to retire the first two batters.

Jernigan, who went 2-for-3, bunted and stole second base. Jernigan later scored on an RBI double from Anna Bulger.

With Bulger at second, Ashley Copeland laced an RBI single to right-center and Bulger screamed around third and made it home safe before the throw home from center.

Copeland also led PHS and went 2-for-3 with a single, a double and an RBI. Bulger went 1-for-2 with an RBI; Weaver went 1-for-3 with a triple; Kelley went 1-for-2 with a single; and Jordan McGhee went 1-for-2 with a single.

Ragland’s Kailey Echols, Callie Kay and J.J. Looney went 1-for-3 each to lead the Lady Purple Devils.