With the postseason three weeks away, the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (14-2) pulled an all-nighter this past weekend to prepare for their upcoming final examination, as they posted a solid 3-2 record at the Lincoln County Border Battle while playing until early Sunday morning.
Although CHS did not post the gaudy offensive numbers that many have become accustomed to through the first 11 games of the season, Cornersville coach Spencer Mitchell was pleased with his team's play at the Border Battle after stepping up against tougher competition.
"We knew we had good pitching, but we also saw some today," said Mitchell. "Some of our bats that had been pretty hot lately didn't fare too well against good pitching so we'll work on that. Our defense played well today though and our pitching was outstanding as usual."
After severe thunderstorms forced Friday's games to be postponed, the Lady Bulldogs opened pool play on Saturday afternoon against Alabama Class 6A power Sparkman, which came into the game with an impressive 32-6 record. Although Cornersville hung tough against the Lady Senators, Sparkman defeated CHS 2-0 in five innings to hand the Lady Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
Cornersville came into the contest averaging a robust 9.4 runs per game, but mustered just two hits against Lady Senator starting pitcher Tori Edwards. Katie Pigg and Summer Cole each singled to account for both CHS hits.
Lady Bulldog hurler Summer Cole, meanwhile, yielded just three hits and registered four strikeouts in the contest, but Sparkman showed exceptional patience at the plate and drew six walks overall.
Cole snuffed out a Sparkman scoring threat in the bottom of the first inning with the help of an outstanding running catch in foul territory by right fielder Alex Wolaver, but the Lady Senators pushed across a run in the second, thanks to a single and three walks to take a 1-0 lead. Sparkman then plated another run in the third on a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly to open up a 2-0 advantage before Edwards retired Cornersville in order the next two innings to close out the Lady Senators' victory.
The Lady Bulldogs showed no ill effects from the setback in their second pool game of the afternoon, as they trounced the Franklin County Lady Rebels 8-0 in five innings.
Cornersville got their offense back on track and pounded out nine hits against two Franklin County pitchers. Outfielders Katie Pigg and Summer Cole spearheaded CHS' offensive attack, as Pigg went 2-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Cole tallied a pair of hits and scored twice. Erica Blackwell also added a single and two RBIs, and Lori Beth Adams, Makenzie Hopkins, and Haley Fagan each had a hit and a RBI. Savannah Cole singled and scored a run as well.
Fagan, meanwhile, turned in a strong pitching performance to earn her fourth win of the season in the circle, allowing just one hit and three walks over five innings to go along with six strikeouts.
Cornersville pounced on Franklin County early and pushed across three runs in the top of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. Summer Cole singled and stole second before Pigg drove in Cole with a sharp single into centerfield to make it 1-0. Following a walk by Adams, Amanda Griggs hit into a fielder's choice, but Hopkins and Fagan delivered consecutive two-out RBI singles to give CHS a three-run advantage.
The Lady Bulldogs then doubled their lead in the second by crossing home plate three more times to open up a 6-0 advantage. After singling and advancing to second on a Blackwell sacrifice bunt, Summer Cole scored on a two-out RBI single by Pigg to stretch Cornersville's lead to 4-0. Adams then knocked in Pigg with a RBI double prior to coming home on a RBI single by Griggs.
Fagan extinguished a Lady Rebel scoring threat in the bottom of the second before CHS tallied two runs in the top of the third to forge an 8-0 advantage. Savannah Cole singled and Wolaver drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Cole and Wolaver then both advanced sixty feet on a wild pitch before racing home on a two-out single by Blackwell.
In the fifth, Franklin County loaded the bases with one out after three straight walks, but Fagan regained her composure and retired the next two Lady Rebel batters on a fielder's choice and a groundout to preserve the shutout.
Having finished second in their pool, the Lady Bulldogs received a first round bye in the bracket tournament, but had to wait until 8:30 p.m. to start their second round game against the Collinwood Trojanettes when a few of the earlier games went into extra innings. After defeating Collinwood 8-1 in the Region 6-A tournament last year, Cornersville had a tougher time with the Trojanettes this time around while playing in a dense fog, but managed to pull out a 1-0 victory in eight innings thanks to a dominant outing from senior pitcher Savannah Cole, who ran her record to 6-0 on the season.
Cole mowed down Collinwood with frightening ease and came within a seventh inning infield single of tossing a perfect game while racking up 16 strikeouts overall.
Despite making solid contact at the plate numerous times, the Lady Bulldogs notched only four hits against Trojanette hurler Carly Dicus because of some outstanding defensive plays by Collinwood. Amanda Griggs went 2-3 with a double to lead Cornersville offensively, while Blackwell and Lindsey Dalton each singled.
The Lady Bulldogs had a chance to get on the board in the top of the second after Griggs doubled with one out, but Dicus escaped the jam by retiring the next two Cornersville hitters on a strikeout and a fly out.
In the fourth, the Lady Bulldogs put another runner in scoring position when Blackwell reached on a leadoff single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pigg. Unfortunately, Cornersville was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, as the next two Lady Bulldog batters popped out and grounded out to end the inning.
After Pigg made a sliding catch in center field to rob Collinwood's Whitney Jackson of a hit in the sixth, the Trojanettes finally put a runner on base in the seventh when Maicee Butler beat out an infield single to lead off the inning. Butler, though, never advanced past first, as Cole retired the next three Collinwood hitters on an infield pop up and a pair of strikeouts to maintain the 0-0 stalemate.
With international tiebreaker rules in effect, Cornersville finally pushed across a run in the top of the eighth to break the deadlock. After starting the inning at second base, Sarah King advanced to third on a Dalton single before racing home on a ground ball by Hopkins to give the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
Collinwood advanced their runner to third with two outs in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a sacrifice bunt, but Cole bore down and fanned Dicus to end the game.
Following their victory over the Trojanettes, Cornersville squared off against the Lawrence County Lady Wildcats in the third round. The Lady Bulldogs offensive struggles, however, continued in the ever thickening fog, as Lawrence County defeated CHS 1-0 in five innings to apparently knock Cornersville out of the tournament. CHS registered just two hits and a pair of walks against Lady Wildcat hurlers Kelsey Kemp and Shea Morris. Summer Cole and Pigg each singled to account for both Lady Bulldog hits.
Cornersville pitcher Savannah Cole, meanwhile, suffered her first loss of the year in the circle, allowing one run on five hits in four innings of work while issuing no walks and compiling eight strikeouts.
Lawrence County plated the lone run of the game in the bottom of the second inning when Kemp raced home on a two-out RBI single by Amelia Ellis after singling with one out and advancing to second on a Nikki Harris single.
Kemp and Morris then took care of the rest and did not allow a Lady Bulldog runner to advance past first base over the final three innings to complete the shutout.
Coach Mitchell's squad, however, was given new life in the tournament when the Lady Wildcats elected to drop out of the tourney. After taking a team vote on whether to play another game, the Lady Bulldogs squared off against tournament host Lincoln County in the semifinals. Although the contest did not start until after midnight, Cornersville's decision to stay proved to be a productive one, as CHS defeated the Lady Falcons 1-0 in six innings.
CHS relief pitcher Savannah Cole tossed two shutout innings to earn the victory and improved her record to 7-1 on the year, yielding just one hit during that span to go along with three strikeouts. Haley Fagan, meanwhile, started the game in the circle and gave up two hits and four walks in four scoreless innings of work while notching six strikeouts.
Lincoln County starting pitcher Tanner Sanders turned in an impressive performance in defeat and limited the Lady Bulldogs to only two hits. Griggs and King each had a hit to lead Cornersville at the plate with King driving in a run.
The Lady Bulldogs then broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth by pushing across a run on two hits to grab a tenuous 1-0 lead. Following a one-out double by Griggs, King laced a single into center field to drive in courtesy runner Brittney Crowell for the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lincoln County had a chance to tie the game after Sarah Humphries tripled with one out. Humphries, however, got caught in a run down between third and home on a failed squeeze play and was tagged out at the plate by Griggs to extinguish the Lady Falcon threat.
That proved to be last scoring chance for Lincoln County, as Cole retired the Lady Falcons in order in the sixth to cap the Lady Bulldogs' 1-0 victory.
With the time nearing two o'clock in the morning, Mitchell opted to take his team back to Cornersville instead of playing the championship game against Riverdale.