|World Series continues at Coleman Park|
| Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer
Aug. 1, 2006 - The states of Tennessee and South Carolina are separated only by a thin strip of North Carolina land. Monday, the only thing between them was two runs.
South Carolina, the two-time defending tournament champions, edged Tennessee, 5-3, in the winners' bracket of the Dixie Angels World Series at Coleman Park in a well-played game that featured all the elements of good softball: good pitching, clutch hitting and excellent defense.
The close score was indicative of the action Monday evening. Of the four games, only one was not a toss-up. In the elimination games, Florida held off Virginia 4-3, Alabama outlasted Mississippi 3-0 in eight innings, and Louisiana beat Georgia 10-4.
That sets up what should be another exciting round of games today as the original 12-team field has been whittled down to six.
In the winners' bracket, the only two unbeaten teams, South Carolina and host Hopkins County, face each other at 7:30 p.m. on Field A - Hopkins County received a bye Monday after winning its first two games. In the elimination games, Florida and Louisiana play at 5:30 p.m. on Field A, while Tennessee and Alabama match up at 6 p.m. on Field B.
South Carolina 5, Tennessee 3
South Carolina scored all five of its runs in the fourth inning - punctuated by Brianna Chisolm's three-run inside-the-park home run - to emerge unbeaten after three games.
Tennessee had used excellent pitching and defense to keep South Carolina off the board until the fourth, and held a 1-0 lead.
But SC's Brianna Holmes started a one-out rally with a single to right and Jaime McLaine followed with a walk. Canyon Crosby then laced an opposite field double to left, driving in Holmes to tie the score. Laura Reynolds then hit a line drive back up the middle which went off of pitcher Erica Nall's foot, but shortstop Haylee McDill alertly fielded the ball and threw to third to get Crosby for the second out.
Michelle Pye doubled to right on the next pitch, however, and Chisolm followed with her home run to center field to make the score 5-1.
Tennessee didn't go down easily. In the bottom of the inning, Jodi Duncan led off with a triple to the left field gap and was sacrificed home with a perfect bunt by Karlie Sorrentino. With two outs, Ashton Needham - who started in the circle and threw two scoreless innings - doubled up the middle and came home on Nall's single to right.
Tennessee put two runners on base in the fifth and another in the sixth, but SC pitcher Pye was able to work out of both jams.
Both teams helped out their pitchers with exceptional defense. Tennessee first baseman Mady Kate Gantt made an excellent back-handed stop of a ball for the final out of the second inning, catcher Haley Whitney caught a pop up in front of the plate for the first out of the game, and then a relay throw from right field to third base caught a baserunner for the final out in the third.
South Carolina turned a double play in the first after Tennessee had scored its first run of the game on a single by Duncan and an RBI grounder by Needham. Chisolm, playing third for SC, threw Needham out at first, then covered the bag as a relay around the horn caught Alex Stanford, who had singled, at third.
Florida 4, Virginia 3
Florida turned a pair of double plays early in the game, then made two game-saving plays in the final inning to hold off Virginia.
Florida took a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the final inning, but Virginia mounted a potential game-winning rally. Marley Hodson, batting in the No. 12 spot, walked and with one out Taylor Brandon reached on an infield single.
Courtney Deal then shot a triple to the right center field fence and attempted to score the game-tying hit on the same play. But, Florida got her in a run-down and catcher Alexis Ferrera tagged Deal out on a slide at the plate for the second out.
Virginia's Mackenzie Moore then singled to right as the Old Dominion State tried to mount one last rally, but Florida outfielder Mariah Crawford took a hit away from Jen Ryan when she made a running basket catch in short right center field for the final out of the game.
Virginia took a 1-0 lead in the second as Ryan singled and came home on an error.
Florida, though, scored four runs in the third as Allison Lucky, Raina Lemke and Nicole Morolla walked to load the bases, then Ferrera tied the game with an infield single and two more runs scored on Sabrina Russell's grounder. Cummings also singled home a run.
Both teams turned two double plays, the most impressive of which was turned by Virginia in the fifth when Moore at catcher fielded a bunt and threw to second baseman Ryan covering first. Ryan then caught a Florida runner between second and third before finally throwing to Addi Johnson at third for the tag out.
Virginia pitcher Jessica Younts and Deal each threw two scoreless innings, while Russell struck out seven batters in five innings of work.
Louisiana 10, Georgia 4
After having the game tied at 4-4 heading into the top of the fourth inning, Louisiana scored five runs in the inning to take the win in their elimination contest.
Louisiana's Danielle Lavigne opened the inning with a single, followed by a fielder's choice from Leah Sulzer, a single from Morgan Bounds and a hit-by-pitch to Kaylee Weaver to load the bases.
Lindsey Berns walked scoring Sulzer, Kaitlyn Lamulle and Alexis Hanson hit back-to-back singles to give Louisiana a 7-4 lead. Kari Ousterhaut walked with the bases loaded and Kortney Chiapetta was hit by a pitch scoring Lamulle for the 9-4 advantage.
Earlier in the contest, Georgia cut the Louisiana deficit to 4-3 as Carlie Lowe walked, followed by Charli Justice reaching on an error and back-to-back walks to Lacy Herndon and Olivia Lane pushed across Georgia's first run of the game.
Brittan Lowe and Kaley Clay then hit into fielder's choices as Clay drove in Herndon and then Ashley Parker walked scoring Lane for the 4-3 deficit.
In the circle, Bounds gave up a one-hitter for Louisiana, fanning four in six innings.
Georgia's only hit was by Anna Martin in the sixth inning.
Alabama 3, Mississippi 0
In the final elimination game of the night, a pitcher's duel between Krista Hubbard and Courtney Hardy sent their game into extra innings as Alabama prevailed in the eighth inning.
Alabama opened the final inning with a single by Hubbard - who then reached second on an error - followed by an RBI single from Holli Hallmark.
Hayliey Wofford then walked before Brooke Hubbard rapped a one-out RBI single to right field, followed by a fielder's choice from Payton Golden for the 3-0 lead.
Mississippi had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the second inning as with two outs, Wendy Owens nailed a single to right field. Lauren Walker, who reached on an error, advanced to third on the play only to be stranded as Krista Hubbard induced a pop out to the pitcher for the final out of the inning.
In the fifth inning, Mississippi had a chance to get on the scoreboard with runners on first and third with one out as Breanna Dalton opened with a single and advanced to second on an error. Alyssa Hardy then rapped a single to right field as Dalton advanced to third before Hubbard got out of the jam striking out two batters to end the inning.
Hubbard faced only eight batters over the minimum and had four innings of three-up, three-down pitching with 12 strikeouts and three walks, while Hardy had 12 strikeouts and two walks in the contest.