HENRIETTA — The Rutherford County Post 423 Lady Legion Softball team dropped Wednesday’s semifinal matchup against Hickory Post 48 by a 6-0 score, committing five errors on the night. At the dish, Post 423 managed just two hits as Post 48 pitcher Owyen Lyall kept hitters off-balance the entire game.
“We just didn’t swing the bats well,” said Post 423 head coach Daniel Bailey. “She kept us off-balance and we had a lot of popups tonight. We didn’t force them to make a lot of plays. Defensively, we had some errors and just weren’t real clean tonight. At this stage, in the Area Semifinal, you have to be clean in everything you do. I thought the girls fought hard. We really cleaned it up the last three innings on defense and Christian (Beaver) got stronger on the mound. They came out swinging the bats. I tip my hat off to Hickory. The pitcher hit her spots on us all night long. They played a good ballgame.”
Addie Wray led off the game with a triple to left field to get Post 48 started. Beaver would strike out the next batter, but Grace Loftin would score Wray on a RBI groundout to give Post 48 a 1-0 lead.
Post 423 seemed poised to tie the game up in the bottom half off the inning. Baylee Short singled to lead off the frame and advanced to second on an errant throw with nobody out. After a popout, Sarah Holmstrom laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Short to third, but a groundout stranded her there.
Beaver and Lyall worked a quick second, but the Post 48 offense took advantage of a pair of errors in the third to score two runs.
Wray and Avery Alexander picked up back-to-back singles and a flyout moved Wray to third. Wray would then score on an error on a pickoff throw to Post 48 up 2-0. On the same play, Alexander would attempt to go first to third, but got caught in a rundown. Unfortunately for Post 423, a throwing error allowed Alexander to escape the pickle and make it to third. After a flyout, Macey Pennell scored Alexander with a RBI single as Post 48 led 3-0 after 2.5 innings.
Post 423 had a strong start to the bottom of the third as Chloe Young coaxed a walk and advanced to second on a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Hayley Coffey, but a popout and a flyout ended the threat.
Post 48 would add three more runs on three errors in the top of the fourth. Kayla Hollar singled to begin the frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mayson Lail. Jada Spike then scored Hollar on a double to give Post 423 a 4-0 deficit. Wray then singled and a fielding and throwing error on the same play allowed courtesy runner Haven Helton to score. Alexander laid down a bunt and another error allowed Wray to score as Post 48 led 6-0.
Zaley Packett delivered a two-out single for Post 423 in the bottom of the fourth, but would advance no further as the deficit remained 6-0.
Both pitchers worked a perfect fifth and Beaver worked around a leadoff single in the top of the sixth to keep the deficit at 6-0, but Lyall would sit the final 10 batters down in order to preserve the 6-0 victory.
Despite the loss, Bailey was happy with the season that included a division title.
“This program has continued to grow and we hope that we will get even more girls out next year,” he said. “Our junior legion program had about 19 girls this year, so we are excited about the future. This year, we had two college girls, Sarah Holmstrom and Baylee Short and they were both good leaders for us and the girls really looked up to them and listened to their guidance. It’s just a fun group to be around. The team chemistry was great. Taking that No. 1 seed in the West and getting that division is something we can build off as we try to get back to the states.”
HP: 102 300 0 — 6 8 1
RC: 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
WP: Owyen Lyall
LP: Christian Beaver