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Lady Doggs play a couple against Walnut Grove in summer tune-up

Semi-perfect evening

POSTED: June 11, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Jacayla Sullivan waits guarding third base.

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Winder-Barrow’s Lady Bulldoggs softball team found one and a half wins on Monday in summer softball action at Walnut Grove, taking the first game of a split double header 5-1 and tying the second game 4-4. 

The Lady Doggs dropped a pair of games last week on Thursday night as storms rolled in over the quiet Walton County town, but their hitting and their fielding showed immense improvements in the short span of a few days.

Jacayla Sullivan started off the second inning of Game 1 against the Lady Warriors of Walnut Grove High School with a solidly hit ball towards third base, and she reached safely on a late throw to record Winder’s second hit of the day after Emily Ferguson reached in the first inning on a blooper towards first.

Walnut Grove pitched out the next Lady Dogg on a swinging strike three before Hallie Evans advanced Sullivan on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs and a runner in scoring position, TK Sauls smashed a crucial double towards right field. The Lady Warrior out in the grass attempted a throw home, but the relay was off-target and allowed Sauls to advance even further.

Both the first and second innings started with hits for Walnut Grove, but both times eventually led to a clutch double play. In the first, Haven Sampson bunted safely and barely beat the throw to first, but Sullivan’s heads-up catch caught her off-guard and allowed for a quick double play.

In the second, Kylee Love took advantage of a fielding error to reach first, but a pop up bunt that landed in Ansley Johnson’s glove gave the Lady Doggs their second straight two out advantage after letting the leadoff runner on.

The top of the third would prove to be Winder-Barrow’s big inning offensively as Laura Clark took a 3-2 walk before a Megan Garrett bunt confused the Walnut Grove infield. The Lady Warriors attempted a throw to second, but the ball flew high and allowed Clark to land safely with two on and no outs.

Krista Thomason advanced Clark and Garrett on a strange play in which she claimed to have been hit by the pitch, but the officials called it a bunt. With the live ball in play, but Thomason unaware of its status as a live ball, Walnut Grove had the easy out at first but nowhere else.

Emily Ferguson and Carlee Thurmond were the next two batters up, and both notched RBI singles to opposite ends of the outfield turf. Ferguson’s single scored Clark and Thurmond’s scored Garrett.

With two more runners up and a 3-0 lead, sophomore pitcher Cathleen Nugue smacked a two-RBI triple to deep center scoring Ferguson and Thurmond to give the Lady Doggs a 5-0 lead. Nugue had already secured a double by the time both runners made it home, but the throw to the plate gave her just enough time to extend the run all the way around to potentially get another run just a few feet from home.

Nugue’s triple also forced the Lady Warriors to pull ace pitcher Kayla Poynter in just the third inning in favor of her reliever.

The game was far from over, though, as Karlee Folds had the first of four hits for Walnut Grove in the bottom half of the inning with a single to left field.

Lady Warriors Kelsey Cyrus and Amber Murrell added singles to load the bases for Sampson with just one out, and Sampson had visions of turning the tide back in her team’s favor.

Her ball went straight back to Nugue who made a quick throw home for the force out with bases loaded, but Folds slid into Johnson out of habit and stopped the game for a dramatic few minutes. Almost instantly, it was evident that Johnson had potentially reinjured her bad knee on the unnecessarily rough play that saved a run.

Johnson’s injury brought Thurmond back in from center field to the catcher’s spot, a position she played much of last season, and the game continued with a slightly altered line-up for the Lady Doggs.

Johnson would sit out Game 2, but she appeared to be walking fine under her own strength later in the evening.

The next Lady Warrior made a play past third on a fielding error and allowed Murrell to score Walnut Grove’s only run of the day with bases still loaded.

With the tying run at home, Tori Aycock stepped up to bat for Walnut Grove with a chance to really interfere with Winder’s plans. Aycock’s soft pop fly towards second base posed just a momentary danger, though, as Sauls was able to get under it with relative ease to end Walnut Grove’s only real threat of the first game.

Alexis Berry and McKenzy Macfarland both hit safely in the fourth but were unable to score, while Walnut Grove had one hit and the benefit of an error in the bottom half, but three easy fly outs ended Game 1 with a Winder-Barrow victory.

After Walnut Grove’s second game of the day, where they lost to Region 8-AAAAA reigning champs Heritage, the Lady Warriors reshuffled the deck and awaited their second shot at Winder-Barrow.

It was the Grove that got on the board early as Berry walked the first batter, followed by a fielder’s choice to advance her and an RBI double to center for their first run of the first game. Still in the bottom of the first, another Lady Warrior double put a potential second run on third before a wild pitch allowed her to score. That batter would eventually strike out on a 3-2 swing for the third out of the first inning.

Berry recorded two more strikeouts in the second to take control of the side before the Lady Doggs broke it open with another explosive third inning.

Clark scored a one-out hit to left-center field to set up Macfarland’s shot by the third base line towards left field. With two on and two outs once more, Thurmond once again provided the heroics with a bases clearing, two-run double to left field. The fielding Lady Warrior may have been able to make a play and keep it to a one-run single if not for the bizarre slantways hop the ball took upon falling at the intersection of her glove and the ground.

A Nugue double sent Thurmond to third, all in perfect time for Sullivan’s soft fly to left to score Winder’s go-ahead run for the 3-2 lead.

Thomason almost added to the lead with a hard line drive to center, but a great play by the fielder preserved the score and ended the lengthy top of the third inning.

Walnut Grove would reclaim the lead 4-3 with a two-run bottom of the fourth inning via the combination of leadoff walks, a base hit bunt, a sacrifice fly RBI and a fielder’s choice RBI, leaving Winder-Barrow just one more chance to get back ahead.

Evans started the inning off for the Lady Doggs with a close play at first as she barely out-stepped the throw on her grounder to short, giving Winder-Barrow the tying run on base. Clark placed a perfect sacrifice bunt down the line giving Evans ample time to scamper to third all the way from first with just one out, setting up the perfect scenario.

With one out, Macfarland stepped up to the plate knowing all she needed to do was put the ball deep enough for her teammate to score, and that’s exactly what she did. Evans came home with time to spare after tagging up at third on Macfarland’s deep fly ball to the farthest point of center field to give the Lady Doggs a 4-4 tie. 

Walnut Grove would record the third out with the tie intact, but the tight schedule of summer ball restricts games to a strict limit of one hour and 15 minutes, so the Lady Doggs escaped their second game without a loss, but also without a win.

The junior varsity Lady Doggs will go back to Walnut Grove on Monday, but the next varsity contest will be Thursday, June 19 as Winder-Barrow plays a true doubleheader with Game 1 at 5:30 p.m. and Game 2 at 7 p.m. against an opponent to be announced.

 

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