Lady Bulldogs surge past Culleoka

Friday, May 11, 2012
Cornersville pitcher Taylor Wolaver throws out a Culleoka's Niki Lee at first base after fielding a bunt in the top of the fourth inning. Photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (11-10) advanced to the loser's bracket finals of the District 11-A tournament by defeating the Culleoka Lady Warriors 10-3 on Tuesday night at Mt. Pleasant High School after overcoming an early three-run deficit.

Culleoka jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, before the Lady Bulldogs battled back and held a 4-3 advantage at the end of the fourth inning. Cornersville then put the game out of reach by pushing across six more runs over the next two frames to claim their 12th straight victory over the Lady Warriors.

Having scored 29 runs in their three previous playoff games, the Lady Bulldogs continued to swing hot bats on Tuesday and banged out 15 hits against Culleoka starting pitcher Mariah Delk.

Cornersville second baseman Kaitlyn Rogers makes a backhanded flip to first base for an out after fieldig a groundball by Culleoka's Ashley Duke in the top of the sixth inning.

Kaitlyn Rogers, Makenzie Hopkins, and Brittney Crowell each tallied three hits to spearhead Cornersville's offensive attack with Rogers and Hopkins driving in three and one run respectively. Starting hurler Taylor Wolaver (2 RBI) and Makayla Campbell also notched two hits apiece for the Lady Bulldogs, while Kelsey Wortham (2 RBI) and Carson Coble both had one hit.

After getting off to a rocky start in the circle, Wolaver settled down and held Culloeka's offense in check the rest of the way, as she allowed three runs, only one earned, on five hits and a walk in seven innings of work to go along with five strikeouts.

"I didn't like waiting that long to get started, but once we got started we played pretty well and were able to relax," said Cornersville coach Eric Crabtree. "I don't like having to fight back in an elimination game, but once we tied the game I felt pretty good. We hit the ball well and Taylor pitched a good game once she got lathered up."

Lindzi Pipkin and Delk (1 RBI) recorded two hits apiece to pace the Lady Warriors at the plate.

Cornersville was put on upset alert at the start of the contest, as Culleoka scored three times in the top of the first inning on a leadoff single by Pipkin, a Delk RBI double, a walk by Bethany McGuire, an error, and an Ashley Duke RBI single to grab a 3-0 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs quickly counterpunched and pushed across two runs in the bottom half of the frame to slice the deficit to 3-2. After leading off the inning with a bloop double, Campbell advanced to third on a MandiLynn Calahan sacrifice bunt. Wolaver then drove in Campbell with a RBI single to narrow the gap to 3-1, before courtesy runner Miranda Cooksey scored on a RBI triple by Rogers.

In the bottom of the second, Cornersville tied the game at 3-3 when Crowell raced home on a Wortham RBI groundout after singling, stealing second, and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Beard.

The Lady Bulldogs then plated another run in the third thanks to a one-out double by Hopkins and a Rogers RBI single to seize a 4-3 advantage.

Delk held Cornersville scoreless in the fourth, but the Lady Bulldogs opened up some breathing room in the fifth inning by crossing home plate three times on the strength of a single by Hopkins, a Rogers RBI double, a bunt single by Crowell, a Beard RBI sacrifice bunt, and a RBI bloop single by Wortham to forge a 7-3 lead.

Cornersville then tallied three more runs in the sixth with the help of two Lady Warrior errors and a pair of RBI singles by Wolaver and Hopkins to cap their 10-3 triumph.