Marshall County goes toe-to-toe with Lodi
Even though they lost 5-4 to undefeated and national powerhouse Lodi, CA, in Monday night's winner's bracket final, the Marshall County all-stars showed true grit, determination, stellar sportsmanship and the heart of champions.
"These girls never quit, never gave up, never thought they were out of the game and the coaches never thought they were out of the game," said Marshall County manager Danny Hollingsworth.
Samantha King put another notch in her gun belt, displaying why she is the frontrunner for tournament MVP, giving up just three earned runs in a gutsy six-hit complete game versus Lodi's loaded lineup.
King also etched her name in the Babe Ruth World Series record book when she sent a low-flying cruise missile over the left field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning as the MC girls tried to claw their way back into the ballgame.
It was the first home run ever over the fence at the stadium park at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex in Alachua, FL and only the second dinger in the last seven years in World Series play.
Madison Williams from Fern Creek, KY hit one last year at Andalusia, AL and before Williams' long bomb, Casey Cresbaugh from Sparta, NJ belted one in 2005 at Cherry Hill, NJ.
Marshall County got off to a nervous start, committing two errors in the first inning and compounded with two deep doubles by Lodi Extreme sluggers Marissa Stockton and Alex Preston, the California squad led 2-0.
Undaunted, the magical Marshall girls came right back in the home half of the first when Blair Richards knocked in her step-sister Leah Hollingsworth with an RBI base hit to cut Lodi's lead in half.
King and Lodi starter Carley Morfey held firm in the second inning and in the top of the third, Marshall County got out of a jam when Jasmine Runk snagged a long fly ball and gunned down Bailey Correia at third to end the inning.
Lodi seemed rattled as Jordon Yelensky reached on an error to leadoff the home half of the third inning and Leah Hollingsworth followed with a bunt single.
King moved both runners up on a groundball to the right side, but Morfey struck out the next MC batter for out number two.
Morfey uncorked a wild pitch with Hannah Singleton at the dish as Yelensky raced home to knot the game at 2.
In the top of the fourth things got weird as a controversy arose over an unreported substitution after Lodi took a 3-2 lead on an RBI base knock by Abby Pairses.
After several minutes, no penalty was incurred by Lodi and two RBIs later by Stockton and Brittany Perez made it a 5-2 ballgame.
There was no quit in the orange and white as Aliyah Holder led off home half of the frame with a base on balls.
Carson Warner followed with a base hit to left field and Courtney Edde replaced Warner on the bag at first as a courtesy runner.
A pair of groundball outs to second base sent Holder home to make it 5-3.
Kianna Holder stepped to the plate and popped-up near the first base line and the ball was dropped. Lodi used their lucky rabbit's foot as the ball bounced off the first baseman's foot and bounced directly to the second baseman covering the bag, getting Holder by half a step for the third out.
The tying run would have scored on the play if the ball would have bounced anywhere else.
King held firm in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom of the inning with two outs, King drilled the record tying homerun to make it a 5-4 ballgame.
Lodi went down in the sixth and in the bottom of the inning; Lodi reliever Arianna Lozano retired the side in order on three ground ball outs.
"We played as hard and as good as we could have possibly played, it is just unfortunate that we were on the other end of that," said Hollingsworth. "We got three games left and we have to come back and play the best we can at 7:30 tomorrow night and then see what happens on Wednesday."
Marshall County awaits the survivor of the loser's bracket.
In Tuesday morning action, Prairie Village, KY defeated Washington, NC 5-4 to advance to play Pitt County, NC, who beat Hazlet, NJ 11-1.
Marshall County will play the winner of that game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night and the survivor will have to beat Lodi twice to claim the 2012 title.