Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SPORTS >>Lady Devils rally to beat Sylvan Hills

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills was two outs away from revenge, but a single by junior Paula Burr in the top of the seventh inning started a six-run rally for Jacksonville at Sherwood Sports Complex on Monday.

The Lady Red Devils struggled offensively from the second inning on, but took advantage of their last chance to overcome a 4-2 deficit and sweep their 6A-East rivals for the year with an 8-4 win.

After Burr’s shot down the third base line, freshman Alexis Oakley lined a ball off SH third baseman Lindsey Ogden’s glove. That sent the ball down into left field by the fence, and by the time the Lady Bears had retrieved the ball, Burr was safely home, and Oakley was at third.

Chyna Davis brought in Oakley on a fielder’s choice gone wrong for the Lady Bears to tie the game, and Tyler Pickett put the Lady Red Devils out front with a double into centerfield that scored Davis and Bailee Herlacher.

“The difference in a week ago and today is that we didn’t move our runners a week ago, and today we did,” Jacksonville head coach Tanya Ganey said. “What can I say? I mean, I can’t be any more proud of a group of young ladies. They could have given up, but they didn’t. That’s what you call refusing to lose right there, and that’s what champions are made of.”

Jacksonville took the initial lead with two runs in the top of the first, and it took the Lady Bears a while to respond. The switch at the mound from Hannah Scott to Morgan Uekman in the top of the second inning held off the Lady Devils offensively, but the Sylvan Hills bats didn’t begin fully connecting until the bottom of the fourth inning.

Uekman grounded to right field for a single to start the inning for Sylvan Hills, followed by an error and a hit batsman. The Lady Bears tied the game when Lindsey Ogden scored on a passed ball.

Freshmen hitters Pickett, Davis and Riley Zink all came up big for Jacksonville on Monday, but Ganey said that was only part of a tremendous team effort.

“I don’t want to take anything away from our younger players,” Ganey said. “But there were six innings before that. We had times where another freshman stepped up. A junior stepped up with a bunt and moved some players. There’s something that everybody out there did to help us win the ballgame, even the people on the bench, and the way they were cheering.”

Pickett’s game-winning RBI in the seventh was the second big freshman hit of the inning. However, it was sophomore Lanier who put the exclamation point on the game when she grounded a single into center field to drive in the final two runs of the evening.

Lanier’s first RBI came in the first inning. Herlacher scored the first run when she came in on a passed ball while Lanier was at the plate. Lanier reached on an error, which allowed Jennifer Bock to score.

Jacksonville finished the game with eight runs, eight hits and three errors. Oakley led with a 2-of-3 performance, including a triple and a RBI. Lanier was 1-of-3 with three RBI, and Pickett was 1-of-4 with two RBI. Lanier took the win at the mound, recording eight strikeouts and a walk.

Sylvan Hills finished with two hits — one each by Uekman and Brittany Arnold. The Lady Bears had three errors.

Jacksonville improved to 2-0 in the 6A-East, and will host Mountain Home in a double header at Dupree Park on Thursday.