Lady Chiefs earn bye for first round of playoffs
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
The Northview Lady Chiefs completed their regular season this week by earning a bye in the opening round of the playoffs and then dropping their second contest of the years against the Escambia County Lady Blue Devils on Thursday.
During spring break week, Stephanie Hayes continued her streak of dominance as she pitched her seventh no-hitter of the season in the second game of a doubleheader against Ponce de Leon. Northview won both games to clinch the best record in their district and a bye in the first game of the district tournament which begins this week.
In the first game, Hayes pitched a gem – allowing only three hits while striking out 14 as the Chiefs came away with a 6-0 victory.
Two doubles and a single in the bottom of the second inning led to three runs for the Lady Chiefs. They added one in the fifth and two more in the sixth inning.
In the second game, Northview handed Ponce a 10-0 defeat as Hayes threw a no-hitter.
The Lady Chiefs scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, four in the second and one run in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
Stacy Ward carried the big bat for Northview as she went two for four with two RBIs. Hayes and Kay Spence each went two for three.
Hayes struck out eight Ponce de Leon batters in the victory.
On Tuesday, the Lady Chiefs played another doubleheader – this one against Mobile Christian Academy. Once again, they played almost perfectly as they secured a sweep, 1-0 and 2-1.
In a tight defensive battle, the Lady Chiefs scored one run in the sixth inning. Hayes led off the inning with a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice by Elizabeth Wiggins. Spence then came through with a base hit that allowed Hayes to score for the only run of the game.
Spence had two hits in the game – a triple and a single.
Hayes only allowed one hit while striking out 12 batters.
In the second game, Northview scored a run in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie for the sweep.
In softball, a runner is placed on second base to begin an extra inning.
Mobile Christian had runners at second and third with nobody out in the top of the eighth. Hayes struck out one batter and a pick off at third by NHS catcher Heather Jernigan helped the Lady Chiefs escape the inning.
Northview did not waste their opportunity as Hayes led of the inning with a single and moving the runner to third. The very next pitch was wild and went to the backstop, allowing Northview to score the winning run.
Elizabeth Wiggins went two for three and Spence hit a triple to lead Northview batters.
Hayes gave up four hits and one run while striking out nine batters. In all she pitched 15 innings through the doubleheader.
The work Hayes did in the doubleheader led to her sitting out of the Chiefs' final game of the regular season against rival Escambia County – and that hurt them as the Lady Blue Devils pulled away with an 11-4 victory.
Head coach Sammy Day said benching Hayes was a precautionary move. But, that another change in the roster was not. Catcher Heather Jernigan has suffered an injury to her thumb. It is still unknown how serious the injury is.
Taking Hayes' place on the mound was Chelsea Hardin, who threw the first four innings, and Ashley Fuller, who threw the final three innings of the game.
Hannah Chancery was the Lady Chiefs only multiple hitter. She went two for three with a double.
The first round of the district tournament begins on Tuesday in Freeport at 1 p.m. Due to the bye, NHS will not play until Thursday when they will face the winner of the Ponce de Leon and Central-Milton. The winner will host a quarterfinal game on Tuesday, May 1.
The Lady Chiefs finished the 2001 regular season with an overall record of 16-4.