Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SPORTS>>Big eighth lifts Cabot to victory over MSM

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Mt. Saint Mary made a huge statement on Thursday by forcing conference-leading Cabot into extra-innings after a scoreless regulation, but the Belles would find freedom of speech bittersweet in the top of the eighth inning.

The Lady Panthers went through their entire lineup in the eighth, turning a once nail-biter into a 7-0 shutout win for Cabot at the Sherwood Sports Complex. MSM pitcher Taylor Morgan kept the Lady Panthers off the bases for the most part during regulation, but her fatigue started to show the moment Chelsea Conrade bunted home free runner Crystal Cox for the first Cabot run in the eighth. Morgan mishandled the ball badly, overthrowing first base to allow Cox home and for Conrade to make it around to third.

In all, the Lady Panthers racked up six hits in the eighth inning, and also utilized two Belles’ errors to keep the momentum going to remain unbeaten in 7A-Central play.

Lady Panthers coach Becky Steward was not only proud of how her team handled their first extra-innings affair of the season, but was also glad for them to have the experience to draw from later on, with the playoffs a few weeks away.

“We haven’t been put in that situation all year, and we needed to be put in that situation,” Steward said. “We needed to see how we respond to it.”

Sophomore Cherie’ Barfield had another solid night at the mound, taking the win with seven strikeouts and three hits allowed with no walks and one error. The error was a technicality of sorts, as a blast from Morgan in the bottom of the sixth ricocheted off Barfield’s glove hand and onto her leg, causing a moment of breath holding in the Cabot dugout. After a brief talk with Steward as she walked it off, Barfield shook off the incident and closed just as strong as she began. “It was my intention to take her out when I went out there,” Steward said. “But she said she was okay, so I have to trust her. She’s a fighter, that’s for sure.”

The same could not be said for the Belles Morgan. After allowing only two Cabot hits in regulation, Morgan started off the eighth with back-to-back errors, and then watched helplessly as the Lady Panthers rolled off four-straight singles, followed by a pair of doubles to take complete control of the contest.

After the RBI for Conrade to start out the eighth, Jamie Sterrenberg reached on a bunt when Morgan hesitated on the throw in an attempt to get Conrade out at third. Conrade made it back to third safely, putting runners at first and third with no outs. Rachel Glover followed that with a two-RBI shot into centerfield to score both runners, and she was advanced on a single from Jessica Lanier.

Ashton Seidl then got her first hit of the game to drive home Glover for a 4-0 lead, and two more would score on a perfectly-placed double by Becca Bakalekos along the left field line. Cox scored the first run, and bought in the final one with a double into center that brought in Bakalekos for the final run of the game.

Barfield ended her game the way she started it, with a strikeout on MSM lead-off Breanna Wilkerson.

Rachel Glover finished the game 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Bakalekos also went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs and a double. Rachael Lamb went 2 for 4. The Lady Panthers finished with 10 hits and one error.

Cabot’s record now stands at 17-6 overall and 9-0 in the 7A-Central Conference. They will play