Tigerettes survive with gut-wrenching win
With the season on the line in the loser's bracket of the District 12-AA Tournament, the Marshall County (23-9) Tigerettes hosted a Spring Hill (9-16) team it had beaten by a combined four runs earlier in the year with elimination looming for the loser.
The Tigerettes fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, but continuously grinded throughout the remaining six innings to take the 5-4 win to remain within striking distance of a region tournament berth and a district championship.
The roles were completely reversed in the pitchers circle for Marshall County from Tuesday's win over Giles County, as freshman Marlee Woodard started the game and pitched five 2/3 innings with fellow freshman Brooklin Conger coming in with the game on the line in the sixth.
Conger went on to earn the save as the Tigerettes moved on to the face district leader Cascade in yet another elimination game on Thursday night.
"Once again, team over all," Woodard said. "Team is over me, team is over everything. I knew that if I couldn't stick it out, Brooklin was gonna be there."
The Raiders surprised the standing room only crowd at Reese Hambrick Field with three runs to start the game, but MCHS coach Heather Denton reminded her players that there were still six more innings to make up the deficit.
"I told them to fight to win," Denton said. "I have fighters. I told them to fight all the way through and don't give up. We've just got to hit the ball and play our defense and we will be fine."
Marshall County earned the runs back in the second inning with a flurry of hits starting off with a Taylor Walls single to right and a Hannah Sheppard double to left.
Sophomore Ali Hobbs started the scoring streak with a single up the middle to bring Walls home before Sheppard stole home to bring the score to 3-2.
Emily Martin hit a grounder to second for the first out of the inning, but not before bringing home Hobbs to tie the game up heading into the third.
Woodard settled down after the three runs in the first inning by not allowing another run until Spring Hill's fourth and final run of the game in the fifth inning.
The Tigerettes countered the lead change in the bottom of the fifth with an Allison Sheroski double over the left fielder's head and a Leah Hollingsworth single put Marshall County runners at the corners.
Spring Hill's catcher made a crucial mistake throwing the ball over the third baseman's head trying to pick off Sheroski's lead off the base and the MCHS center fielder scored to tie the game at 4-4.
After a Sydne Solomon walk, Taylor Walls hit a pitch deep to center field to sacrifice in Hollingsworth for the winning run.
Spring Hill made one more run at the lead in the sixth inning, loading the bases up with two outs before Denton decided to bring in Conger to face Spring Hill's toughest batter.
"I was a little nervous, but I wanted to pull through for my team," Conger said. "They believed in me and I had to believe in myself before they could."
With the season on the line, Conger got Seacrest to pop up to second base and end the Raiders last real threat at the Tigerettes one-run lead.
"Seacrest is (Spring Hill's) best hitter," Denton explained. "The first game she batted .800 against us, and the second time she batted like .600. So I just wanted to get her off balance and change the speed. She's the best hitter and I thought (putting in Conger) was the best decision for our team."
Conger made easy work of the Lady Raiders in the seventh to secure Marshall County win.
"We need to continue to hit the ball with runners in scoring position," Denton added. "Our pitchers have to hit their spots, keep the ball low with a little movement on it to make sure that our defense can work."
Spring Hill 300 010 0-4 10 1
Marshall County 030 020 X-5 10 2
Marshall County: Leah Hollingsworth 2-for-3, Ali Hobbs 2-for-3, Savannah Wooten 2-for-3, Allison Sheroski 1-for-4, Taylor Walls 1-for-2, Hannah Sheppard 1-for-3, Emily Martin 1-for-2
RS: Sheroski, Hollingsworth, Walls, Sheppard, Hobbs
BB: Sydne Solomon
2B: Sheroski, Sheppard
RBI: Hobbs, Walls, Martin
SAC: Martin, Kathryn Donahue
SB: Hobbs, Hollingsworth, Sheppard, Solomon
WP: Marlee Woodard (5.2IP, 10H, 4R, 2ER, 1K, 1BB)
Save: Brooklin Conger (1.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB)