Straughn’s Gantt ‘Dee-livers’

Published 12:03 am Friday, April 25, 2014

0425 spt-Dee Gantt

Straughn’s Dee Gantt follows through on a pitch late in the seventh inning Thursday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn sophomore Dee Gantt delivered in a big way for the Lady Tigers Thursday night.

Gantt pitched a gem, allowing one run on five hits and one walk, and hit a solo home run in the second to help lead the Lady Tigers to a 8-1 victory over Opp.

A pleased SHS softball coach Kenny Skipper said Gantt, who pitched seven innings last night, has been performing at a high level as of late.

“She’s been hitting and throwing real well,” Skipper said.

With this victory, the Lady Tigers won the right to host the Class 3A, Area 2 tournament, which is slated for next Thursday. SHS improves to 20-11 overall, and 5-1 in area play.

It didn’t take long for the Lady Tigers to put pressure on Opp. In the top of the first inning, Paige Taylor skewered a two-run, two-out double to score Jacie Williamson and Katelyn Kinsaul, who both reached on errors.

Gantt retired the batters in order in the bottom-half of the frame and used that momentum to slug her solo shot to middle-left to help give SHS a 3-0 lead.

Opp scored its only run in the bottom of the third inning with two outs when Courtney Chatham hit an RBI single to score Sara Ballard, who reached on a bunt.

Straughn got a couple more insurance runs for Gantt in the top of the fourth inning.

Hayden Willis reached on an error, and Molly Stewart got on with a walk. Williamson and Kinsaul hit an RBI double and single, respectively, to score Willis and Stewart.

To get out of the jam, Opp’s Paige Johnson scooped the ball to Chatham, who tagged at second and then threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

SHS made a good heads-up play in the bottom of the fourth when Kinsaul connected with third basemen Kristen Peavy for a pick off and the final out of the inning.

Skipper said that was a good play.

The Lady Tigers made another good play in the fifth when Gantt caught Ariyon Hightower’s laser, and then threw a runner out at first for a double play.

Peavy hit a two-run single, and later scored on a throwing error off of Taylor’s single to make it 8-1 in the sixth.

“We put a little pressure on them early,” Skipper said. “We hit the ball in key situations when we needed to.”

Thursday’s dominance by the Lady Tigers can be attributed to them playing like it’s a new game, Skipper said.

“We keep talking to them about how everybody’s a faceless opponent,” the coach said. “No matter who you play, we’ve got to play at the same level every time we touch the field. Here lately, we’ve been doing that.”

Opp’s Katlynn Schively allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings for the loss. Anna Harrelson pitched the final two and got the no decision.

“They just totally worked our tail,” OHS softball coach Jimmy Reeves said. “There’s nothing else to say. There are no excuses. Straughn has got a very good softball team. We’re not good right now. We don’t want to take anything away from what they did.”

When asked what he thought was the main problem from the outing, Reeves said the girls kept giving SHS free outs.

“I don’t know why we played our worst defensive game against them,” he said.

Reeves said he knows his players aren’t going to quit and will get right back off of the dirt and be better for next week’s area tournament.

Williamson went 3-for-4 with an RBI; and Taylor went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead SHS. Stewart, Kinsaul, Peavy and Colby Adams had one hit each.

Chatham, Harrelson, Ballard, Johnson and Kelley Pierce recorded one hit apiece for OHS.