The Marshall County Tigerettes (18-8) moved within one win of earning their first Region tournament berth in three years on Tuesday when they rallied to defeat the sixth seeded East Hickman Lady Eagles 5-3 at home in the second round of the District 10-AA tourney.
Although MCHS had swept the regular season series against East Hickman, the Lady Eagles (7-17) were coming off a 2-0 victory over third seeded Giles County in the opening round and led Marshall County 3-2 through the first five and a half innings of play. The Tigerettes, however, dashed East Hickman's upset hopes in the bottom of the sixth by crossing home plate three times in the frame, capped by a clutch two-out, two-run double from Addricka O'Neal, to pull out the win.
O'Neal had a day to remember at the plate and spearheaded an 11-hit attack by MCHS, going 3-4 with three doubles and 3 RBI.
"Addricka is coming on when we need her to," said Marshall County coach Holly Cook. "She's a senior and I think she's realized this is the end of the road for her high school career. I know she's going to play in college, but there's nothing like high school ball."
Danielle Toseland and Brandie Jett each tallied a pair of hits for the Tigerettes as well with Toseland driving in one run, while Brianna Roberts, Mieke Wallace, Mary Medley, and Kwanza Pillow had one hit apiece.
Wallace, meanwhile, went the distance in the circle to earn the victory, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk in seven innings of work to go along with 11 strikeouts.
Ashley Payne went 2-3 with a double and two runs scored to lead East Hickman offensively, while Erika Winfrey and Tiffany Tucker each added a single and a RBI. Tucker also pitched all six innings for the Lady Eagles and suffered the loss.
MCHS took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Toseland scored on a RBI double by O'Neal after roping a one-out double down the right field line.
East Hickman mounted an immediate response and pushed across two runs in the top of the second to grab a 2-1 advantage. Payne led off the inning with a bloop single prior to advancing to second thanks to an errant pickoff throw by Marshall County. After moving to third on a Winfrey single, Payne raced home on a ground ball by Emily Robb, before Tucker drove in Winfrey with an RBI single.
The Tigerettes stranded two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second, but knotted the game at 2-2 in the third on a RBI groundout by Kiki Summers after Roberts reached on a leadoff double and advanced to third on an O'Neal groundout.
Marshall County squandered another scoring opportunity in the fifth before East Hickman tallied a run in the sixth to pull ahead 3-2. Payne blasted a two-out double off the top of the center field fence prior to scoring all the way from first on a grounder by Winfrey when the Tigerette shortstop bobbled the ball and made a late throw to first.
The Lady Eagles' lead would prove to be short lived, though, as MCHS countered with three runs in the bottom half of the frame to seize a 5-3 advantage. Following a leadoff single by Medley, courtesy runner De'Lorean Taylor advanced to second on a Pillow sacrifice bunt. After Taylor moved to third on a Jett infield single, Jett stole second before Toseland plated Taylor with a one-out RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. O'Neal then laced a two-run double into left field to drive in Jett and Toseland.
"I really wasn't nervous at all. I just knew if I put the head of the bat on the ball, that it was going somewhere," said O'Neal.
Wallace then took care of the rest and struck out the side in the top of the seventh to secure the Tigerette victory.