Tigerettes shutout in regular season finale
All good things must come to an end and for the Tigerettes that meant a 4-0 loss to Page (15-9-1, 8-3) to end the regular season and put a halt to Marshall County's five-game winning streak.
Base runners were at a premium for Marshall County (10-16, 4-8), as the Tigerettes managed only one hit against Page senior pitcher Kacie Scott and just one other batter reached on a Lady Patriots’ error.
"She was pretty slow and we weren't waiting on it," Tigerette center fielder Katherine Donahue explained. "We weren't hitting well today, that's about it. We most definitely need to work on our hitting (heading to tournament), but our fielding has been on point."
Almost every Tigerette batter made contact with the ball, as evidenced by just three Scott strikeouts, but no matter how hard the hit, the Lady Patriots seemed to be in the right place at the right moment.
Marshall County pitcher Marlee Woodward kept the Tigerettes within striking distance for the entirety of the contest, giving up just nine hits scattered across six innings and never allowed more than one run in a single frame, while finishing with two strikeouts and 24 first strike pitches.
A brief bout with control issues led to the first Lady Patriots’ run in the second inning.
Woodward started off the second inning with two walks before a Scott groundout allowed the first run of the game to score.
The Tigerette hurler shook off the setback and forced Halle Hastings and Ryley Marlin into infield groundouts to end the inning with a Patriot runner in scoring position.
The Patriots added another run in the third on a Jenna Johnson one-out RBI single in center field, but Woodward remained composed, forcing both Delaney Porter and Sarah Regener into infield groundouts with another runner in scoring position.
The fourth inning followed the blueprint of the previous Page at-bats as the Lady Patriots hit back-to-back singles to start the frame before the number nine batter, Marlin, delivered a single for the 3-0 lead.
Woodward remained calm and got Clark to end the inning with a groundout as Page left a base runner stranded in scoring position for the third straight inning.
The Tigerettes finally showed signs of life in the top of the fifth as Hannah Sheppard contributed the first blue and white hit of the game on a hard hit single into left field.
"We went into the game knowing that (Scott) had a weird spin on the ball, so it was mostly just getting our timing down, being able to see the ball clearly and being able to put the bat on the ball," Sheppard said.
"Before I went up me and Danny (Hollingsworth) had talked about shortening up our stance and striding into the ball, that way we could get our timing down."
Sheppard furthered the Tigerette threat by stealing second base to move into scoring position, but Marshall County stuck with the reoccurring theme of the previous four innings with an Alli Hobbs deep lineout to center, a hard hit Savannah Wooten ball right to the first basemen's glove before Donahue ended the fifth with a deep shot into center that landed squarely in a Patriot glove with Sheppard stuck at third base.
The Patriots threatened again in the fifth as Johnson added a one-out single to left before stealing second and third to move into scoring position, but Donahue made a home run robbing, highlight reel catch on a Porter bomb into center before Woodward finished off the fifth with a strikeout.
The Tigerettes went down in order in the sixth before Marlin struck again, launching a two-out double into left field to bring home Alabama commit Johnson for the final run of the 4-0 Page victory.
The Tigerettes’ loss was the first game since an April 11 setback against Page that the blue and white had not either won or lost by just a single run.
"We've just had an urge the past few games to go out and win," Sheppard stated. "We know what we're capable of doing and there was a spark in us that wanted to win.”
“Everybody still had that spark today, it was just our hitting. We have to get our hitting up and be able to adjust to certain pitching and pitchers."
The Tigerettes enter the District 12AA Tournament as arguably the most feared opponent aside from number one seed Cascade as the Lewisburg squad has lost seven district and nine total games by three runs or less.
"Starting from a bad season but peaking at this time, it can't happen any better," Sheppard added. "So I have full confidence in our coaches and team that we'll come out better in the tournament."
Marshall County starts the tournament tonight at 5:30 p.m. versus fourth-seeded Spring Hill, a team the Tigerettes beat 6-0 during the five-game winning streak and lost to 7-6 earlier in the season.
A loss sends the Tigerettes to the single elimination loser’s bracket, but a win would set up a show down with number-one seed Cascade, who squeaked by Marshall County by just two runs and three runs during a pair of regular season victories.
"We need to work on bunting and moving runners, but we've been hitting the ball really well and just playing solid defense," MCHS coach Heather Denton pointed out. "If we just play like we've played the last five games we'll be ok.”
“We've got little things to work on, but if we just improve on what we do well we'll be fine."
Marshall County 000 000 0-0 1 0
Page 011 101 X-4 9 1
Marshall County: Hannah Sheppard 1-for-3
SB: Naomi Hopper, Sheppard
LP: Marlee Woodward (6IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2K, 2BB)
Page: Jenna Johnson 3-for-4, Ryley Marlin 2-for-3, Peyton Clark 1-for-4, Amanda Rider 1-for-2, Kacie Scott 1-for-3, Halle Hastings 1-for-3
2B: Clark, Hastings, Porter
RBI: Marlin 2, Johnson, Scott
BB: Sarah Regener, Rider
RS: Clark, Regener, Lilly Farner,
SB: Johnson 3, Regener 2, Rider, Clark, Hastings
E: Anna Rakes
WP: Kacie Scott (7IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB)