Thursday, August 9, 2012
MA softball team off to strong start
The first three days of the softball season for the Marshall Academy Lady Patriots, a team with a lot of new faces, proved to be very productive.
MA blanked Heritage, Lee (Clarksdale) and Kirk Academy before splitting with one of the top teams in the state, Bayou.
The Class AA Lady Pats opened the season Thursday at home with a 13-0 rout of the Class AAA visitors from Columbus.
Darcie Gibson got things started for MA in the circle. The Heritage Lady Patriots were able to get two runners on in the first and third innings but they were stranded as Gibson recorded the final two outs each time. Alaken McNeer came in and closed out the game in the fourth inning, giving up no hits.
The offense was led by catcher Kat Moore. She went three for three at the plate. Also getting hits for the team were McNeer, Maura Autry, Hayleigh Mason, Elizabeth Skelton and Alexis McGregor.
Friday and Saturday, the Lady Patriots traveled to Grenada for the Kirk Academy Invitational.
The Friday night opponent was AAA Clarksdale Lee – a 9-0 victory for Marshall.
The Lady Patriot offense was too much for the Lady Colts. Leading the attack were Mason, who went two for four with two doubles, and Megan Watkins, who went two for four with a double and a single. McNeer got the win in the circle.
Saturday morning the MA girls rolled over the host Lady Raiders, 15-0.
Gibson got the start in the circle and made easy work of the very young Kirk Academy team – giving up just one hit.
The offensive production was spread out in this game with Gibson getting a double, while Moore, Macie McClure, McNeer, Shelby Hangey and Hailey McMinn picked up a single each.
Those two wins set up a game against Bayou, the six-time defending state champion in Class A and the number-three-ranked team overall in the state this season.
Bayou was the home team so MA batted first and scored three in the top. Moore walked, Autry used a sacrifice bunt to move her, and then Mason walked. McClure hit a single to score two and Watkins put the ball in play to the second baseman to score the third run.
McNeer went to work in the circle. The game remained 3-0 until the fifth inning. Bayou sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring four runs to take the lead 4-3.
Marshall was able to answer in the top of the sixth. A single by Mason knotted the game at 4. In the bottom of the sixth, Gibson went to the circle and shut down the Lady Colts.
In the top of the seventh, which was the played in international tie-breaker rules, McGregor (the Lady Pats’ last batted out from the previous inning) was placed on second. The Lady Patriots were at the top of their lineup with Moore at the plate. Coach Marcus Moore gave his daughter the green light to hit away and she did just that – roping a triple to center field. MA took the lead. The Lady Pats added two more runs as seniors McClure and Watkins each got hits to up the lead to 7-4.
Bayou didn’t go down without a fight. The Lady Colts were able to score one in the bottom half, but Gibson forced three ground-outs to end the game – a 7-5 win for Marshall.
Coach Carlton Gibson said, “This was a huge victory for our program, to beat a team of this level this early in the season shows just how hard these girls have worked.”
Bayou would battle back to face the MA team again in the championship game but “we dug a hole for ourselves just a little too deep,” Coach Moore said.
The MA girls gave up five runs but answered right back with three. They were once again led offensively by Moore, who went three for three. Skelton, McClure and Watkins also picked up hits.
After 12 hours in the heat, the Marshall squad just could not fight enough to pull off the victory and ended up losing 9-4.
There was an additional “what-if” game scheduled, but MA chose not to play that late-night contest. It would have started at 10:50 p.m.
“In the championship game we lacked focus,” Coach Gibson said. “You cannot give a good team five or six outs an inning, especially a team that hits like Bayou. The errors we made were just at crucial times and that cost us.
“Overall, Marcus and I are very pleased at our level of play. We saw some great things from these girls. On the other side, we lacked some leadership that we expected on the field. However, some of our new players showed the potential to be great leaders.”
The Lady Pats (4-1) hosted Lee (Clarksdale) Monday. They visit West Memphis Thursday and then play in the Lee (Clarksdale) Tournament Saturday. Next Tuesday, Aug. 14, they host Kirk at 4 p.m.
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