Lady Bulldogs stay alive in tourney
Facing a win or go home situation on Monday night, the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs traveled to Culleoka to take on a familiar opponent in Richland with its season on the line.
Cornersville had faced the Lady Raiders from Lynnville three times during the regular season, winning all three games by a combined score of 37-6, but the young Richland team put up a fight before succumbing to the brilliant pitching of sophomore Mikaela King and the Bulldogs hung on for a 4-2 win.
Not giving up
"Grinding it out and not quitting were the keys to the win tonight," Cornersville assistant coach Timmy Hopkins said. "We didn't really have our best day, that was obvious. We're just teaching them to grind it out and not to quit, to believe in themselves and believe in each other. That's the only thing that saved us today."
Cornersville jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but would go on the score just two more runs the entire game allowing the Raiders to hang around until the final out.
King went the distance on the mound for the second game in a row and held the Raiders to just two runs despite Richland making serious threats in the fourth and sixth innings.
"Really I just go out there and stay focused and do my job," King said. "I try to help everybody else stay up, try and keep the team together and help the team any way that I can."
The Lady Bulldogs had a prime opportunity to widen the gap in the third inning after walks to Sam Prosser and Madison Hopkins and a single by King loaded the bases.
Miranda Cooksey was hit by a pitch for the 3-0 lead, Alana Braden struck out and Madison Spivey hit a shot deep to center field but was caught by the Richland outfielder to leave three runners stranded.
The Raiders cut into the lead in the fourth after King retired the first two batters with a Richland single and a double deep to right field that made it 3-1.
The Bulldogs started the fourth inning strong with a Hannah Singleton double to right center followed by an Emma Mitchell walk, culminating in the fourth run of the game when Hopkins hit a single to left to score Singleton for the 4-1 edge.
Richland came calling again in the sixth inning, which started with a Lynnville batter taking first base on a passed ball after striking out and the next batter gaining a base after getting hit by a pitch.
Stepping it up
After a single to right field scored the initial runner to cut the Bulldog lead to 4-2, King retired the next two batters as the Richland left the game tying runs on first and third heading into the final inning.
"I told them, they had better step it up and believe," coach Hopkins said. "This is what you play for, this is what we practice for and this is all the moments rolled up. It's time to get real stingy."
The Raiders gave the Lady Dawgs one last scare with two outs when a Richland batter took the ball deep to right field, mere inches from a home run, but had to settle for a double. King came back to get the next batter to fly out harmlessly to right field for the game's final out.
Cornersville beat Culleoka 9-1 Tuesday and faces Mount Pleasant tonight in the loser's bracket final.
"This bunch will be hungry tomorrow," Hopkins noted. "They may not come out and play their best ball, but they'll be hungry. I look for them to bounce back. They're grinders. Nobody grinds on the softball field like this team does. They believe and they'll be ready."