Leader Blues

Monday, April 30, 2007

SPORTS>>Jacksonville proves point, beats Marion

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville had some things to prove this week in its two final fastpitch conference games of the season. They proved them. The Lady Red Devils couldn’t finish ahead of league champion Marion by beating the Lady Patriots Tuesday, but they could prove they are just as good or better, and they did with a 1-0 victory to avenge a 2-1 loss earlier in the season.

Jacksonville’s Jessica Bock hit a single deep into left field in the fifth inning to score Rochelle Holder for the game’s only run.
Bock also threw a one-hitter against a powerful Lady Patriot lineup, while Jacksonville kept Marion on the ropes in several innings.

Jacksonville played a game of missed opportunities until Holder and Bock coordinated the game winner.

An inning earlier, Jacksonville loaded the bases with no outs and failed to score. In the sixth innings, the Lady Devils put runners on second and third with one out, and loaded the bases with two outs and failed to score.

In the end, Bock was too strong and too crafty for the Marion batting lineup to figure out.

Even though Marion is still to top seed, Bradley says the win was important for other reasons.

“We wanted to prove we’re as good or better than they are,” Bradley said. “We gave the first one away, and we had a lot more opportunities to score in this one than we did. So I think we proved that. It also proved to us that we can compete with and beat the top teams. Marion is an outstanding team, they’re top tier, and we beat ‘em. That’s important for us heading into the state tournament.” The win locked up the No. 2 seed in the 6A-East for Jacksonville regardless of Thursday’s outcome against Sylvan Hills, but Bock had something to prove in that game as well.

The Lady Bears employed a bunt-often strategy in their first meeting with Jacksonville, and the result was Bock’s season-low strikeout total and season-high earned run total in an 8-3 Lady Devil win.

This time, Bock fanned 15 Lady Bears and threw a no-hitter as Jacksonville cruised to a 10-0 victory. “I think she’s getting stronger as the season goes,” Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley said. “Her last two games have been downright impressive, and our defense has been a lot better.”

Offensively, Kayla Williams went 3 for 3 while Bailey Herlacher and Ellen Burr went 2 for 3. Senior shortstop Gaby Hart got one hit, but it was good enough for her 10th home run of the season and ended the game.

Somer Grimes led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk, and Hart hit one out to left field to put the Lady Devils ahead by the 10-runs-after-five-innings rule. Errors have been the root cause for all but one of Jacksonville’s four losses, but the Lady Devils haven’t committed an error this week.

Jacksonville closed out the regular season last night against Wynne, the only team to beat Jacksonville without the aid of Jacksonville errors.

Look for details of that game, as well as a complete wrap-up of the 6A-East final standings and a preview of the class 6A state softball tournament in Wednesday’s edition of the Leader.