Lady Bulldogs prove their mettle at Coffee County Classic

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The three-time reigning District 11A champions and third place finishers at the 2007-2008 Spring Fling took their traveling show to the Coffee County Classic in Manchester over the weekend and proved what many people already know.

Head coach Spencer Mitchell and his ladies from Cornersville are loose, confident, and very, very good.

But most of all, they want it all this season and are determined not to let anyone get in their way.

In Coffee County, Cornersville bashed their way through pool play, scoring Friday night wins over defending tournament champion and host Coffee County (AAA) by a 2-0 score, followed by a 6-0 shut-out over Hume-Fogg (AA).

The win over Coffee County was only their fourth setback of the season for the 22-4 Lady Raiders, winners of this year's District 8AAA title.

On Saturday morning, the Lady Dawgs finished up pool play with a hard earned win over Greenbrier.

Haley Fagan went to the circle for Cornersville and hurled a complete game shutout, striking out 6, and giving up just two singles.

Fagan was mixing her pitches to perfection, especially her devastating change-up that kept the lady Bobcats off balance the entire contest.

Fagan got all the offensive help she would need in the game on an RBI double by Lori Beth Adams that drove home Erica Blackwell, who had singled leading off the top of the fourth inning.

Fagan was never really challenged in the contest and Cornersville added three more insurance runs in the top of the sixth with the big blow coming off the bat of Sara King, who lashed a bases loaded triple down the right field line.

Fagan finished the job, sending Cornersville into the first round of bracket play where they faced an overmatched Eagleville squad.

The Lady Bulldogs took care of business in easy fashion, winning 8-0 behind Summer Cole.

Mitchell went to his reserves early in the contest as the Lady Dawgs improved to 23-2.

The next opponent for Cornersville was the Class AAA Siegel Stars from Murfreesboro.

The game was an instant classic.

Siegel scored first on an unearned run in the first inning.

Savannah Cole and Siegel's Holly McGregor battled in the circle and the Stars took the one-run lead into the bottom of the 3rd inning where Cornersville tied the contest at one apiece when Cole helped her cause with an RBI double that scored McKenzie Hopkins, who had double deep to center, just one batter prior.

Cole struck out three of the four batters she faced in the fourth and her teammates gave her a one run lead in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Amanda Griggs that scored Katie Pigg who had singled leading off the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Siegel came right back in the top of the fifth, scoring two times to take a 3-2 lead. Becca Williams knocked in the go-ahead run with a one-out double that scored Megan Eaton.

McGregor retired the Lady Dawgs in order in the fifth inning and Cole set down Siegel 1-2-3 on consecutive whiffs in the top of the sixth, sending the game into the last inning of the hour and fifteen minute mandated ballgame.

After a two-out single by Griggs that kept the game alive, McGregor and the Lady Stars looked like they were in control, but were unaware of the legend of "Lulu".

Lindsey "Lulu" Dalton had done it before, on the biggest stage of all in last year's state tournament, bashing a game-winning homer over Huntingdon that began the freshman's lore.

Now a sophomore, Lulu came up to the dish and worked a 2-2 count before slashing the ball into the right center field gap for a stand-up triple that easily scored Brittney Crowell, who had come in to run for Griggs.

Senior Sarah King has not been short of providing big hits over her career at Cornersville and came into the batter's box, ready to hit and hit she did, bombing the ball over the center field fence for the two-run walk off dinger that stunned the Stars and set off pandemonium amongst the large traveling Cornersville faithful.

Cornersville was off to the Coffee County High School field for a semi-final match-up with the Class AAA Shelbyville Eaglettes.

Fagan went back to the circle for the Lady Dawgs and was stout once again, scattering just four hits in the contest.

Cornersville exploded on offense in the bottom of the first inning, scoring three times.

Summer Cole was hit by Shelbyville hurler Amber Bussell, leading off the inning.

Blackwell laid down a perfect bunt, beating the throw to first, putting runners on the first two bags.

Pigg singled to left to load the sacks for Adams who drove a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cole from third.

Griggs drew a walk to re-load the sacks for Dalton, who doubled down the right field line that scored both Blackwell and Pigg for a 3-0 lead.

The Eaglettes threatened in the bottom of the inning, but Fagan got out of the jam, fielding a two-out, two on bunt and throwing to Adams at first on a bang-bang play that ended the inning.

Pigg drove home Alex Wolaver, who had walked, leading off the bottom of the inning to put Cornersville up 4-0.

Shelbyville would not mount a serious threat again in the ballgame as the Lady Dawgs were off for a championship game re-match with host Coffee County.

The pitching match-up would pit the number one hurlers from both squads, Savannah Cole for Cornersville versus Casey Vincent for the Lady Raiders.

Coffee County lost the coin toss and batted first, scoring a first inning run when Shelby Davis lead off with a double to left field and came home on an RBI single by Kristin Swan.

Cole settled down after the initial run, striking out the next three batters.

Cole led off the Bulldog half of the inning with an infield single and was sacrificed to second by Blackwell.

A wild pitch sent Cole to third, but Vincent got out of the jam with a strikeout and a great defensive play with two outs by second baseman Leslie Keele, who got down and dirty for a ball in the hole and threw to first, ending the inning.

Cole was masterful in the top of the second, striking out the side in order.

Vincent also set down the Lady Dawgs 1-2-3.

Davis knocked a one-out single to left in the top of the third, stole second, and came home on a wild pitch, making it 2-0.

Cornersville once again went down, 1-2-3.

There was no scoring in the 4th or 5th innings.

The bottom of the 6th inning would be the Lady Dawgs last chance to tie the ballgame after Cole kept the hosts off the scoreboard in the top of the inning.

Vincent got a 6-3 groundout to start the inning then struck out the next two hitters to end the ballgame, giving Coffee County the 2009 crown.

"They are a good team," said Spencer. "We just could not get set in with their pitching tonight."

The coach added, "Every time we did get something working, the second baseman killed us with some great plays."

Cornersville goes into the week as the favorite in the District 11A tournament and one of the best two or three teams in the entire state in Class A.

"I told the girls after the game that the next time we get there in a last game of a tournament we don't want to lose the final game," said Spencer.