Thursday, September 29, 2005

State bound
• MA Lady Patriots place fourth in North

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

Marshall Academy will be making its first trip ever to the State Softball Tournament this week.

The Lady Patriots qualified by finishing fourth in last week’s North State AA event in Cleveland.

“I’m so proud of the girls,” said coach Louanne Tomlinson. “Every year we’ve progressed further, and this year we made it (to state). It’s a great thing. It will be a good experience, and we’re looking forward to it.”

MA opened North State Wednesday on the campus of Bayou Academy with an impressive 9-2 win over Kirk Academy.

“The girls were fired up and ready to play,” Tomlinson said.

Casey Gibson went the distance from the mound for the victory. She faced 30 batters, striking out six and walking one.

The Lady Patriots then pulled off what Tomlinson called “a major upset” as they stunned Bayou Academy 3-2. Marshall had lost to the Lady Colts three times this season.

Marshall fell behind 2-0 but rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth.

Getting singles in the big inning were Traci Rodgers, Kristina Polk, Casey Gibson and Mandy Bolden. Reaching on errors and producing runs were Brittney Tomlinson and Heather Tomlinson.

“We didn’t hit the ball well throughout but we came up with the big inning,” Coach Tomlinson said. “Then they (Bayou) got one last bat in the bottom of the sixth and we held.”

Kristen Feathers started on the mound. She faced 19 batters in four innings of work. She had one strikeout. Lauren Alexander got the win in two innings of relief work. She, too, struck out one.

Marshall returned to Cleveland Saturday for the next round and began the day’s play with a 4-0 loss to Leake Academy.

All of Leake’s runs came in the third inning.

“We were in position to score twice but couldn’t get it accomplished,” Tomlinson said. “They scored most of their runs on errors.”

Feathers faced 15 batters and struck out one. Alexander, in relief, faced 13 batters and struck out three.

The game was played in winds of 35 miles per hour due to an approaching storm system from Hurricane Rita.

The Lady Patriots rebounded from their first loss of the tournament to down Lee 4-2 and qualify for state.

“That win put us in as the fourth seed,” a happy Tomlinson said. “It was a touch-and-go game that could have gone either way. The girls came through in the clutch.”

Lee scored their two runs in the first inning.

Knocking in runs as Marshall Academy came from behind to win were Sam Gallimore, Heather Tomlinson and Alexander. Casey Gibson had a triple.

Alexander earned the mound win. She faced 25 batters and struck out five.

At the completion of that game, the Lady Patriots boarded the bus and rushed a short distance over to the campus of Delta State University where they again faced Bayou.

The Lady Colts apparently had some revenge on their minds as they defeated Marshall 15-0.

“They were roping the ball,” Coach Tomlinson said. “They must have spent Thursday and Friday in the batting cage. They hit everything we threw up there.”

Feathers and Alexander pitched for the Lady Patriots.

On offense, Heather Tomlinson connected for a double, which almost went over the fence, and Bolden and Anne Bishop each had a single.

“We didn’t play the quality of ball Saturday that we did Wednesday,” Tomlinson said, “but we’re moving on.”

Also advancing to state from the North are Winston, Leake and Bayou.

MA (14-7 on the season) will open play at the state tournament Wednesday in Jackson against the number one team from the South. The double-elimination event will be held Wednesday and Saturday with the top two teams advancing to the overall tournament.


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