Lady Cougars win state!
The Escambia Academy Lady Cougars softball team claimed the big prize in Montgomery last weekend, bringing home the title "state champs".
Eighteen Lady Cougars traveled to Lagoon Park in Montgomery last weekend with one thing in mind taking state.
Scoring 42 runs to just 6 for their four opponents, the EA ladies rolled through the opposition clicking on all cylinders.
The Warrior Academy Lady Braves would be EA's first victim, 16-5. The Clarke Prep Lady Gators would then fall to nothing. In the third game, EA ladies would run into their stiffest competition as they faced Ashford Academy's Lady Falcons. However, EA ladies would prevail 5-1.
The championship game would be all EA's Lady cougars. EA's defense shut out Clarke Prep's Lady Gators 10-0 to claim the A.I.S.A. IA 2002 State championship. The Lady Cougars who now own at least one state championship ring are: Brooke Young, Mallory Martin, Elisabeth Hendrix, Courtney Smith, Kayla Morgan, Amanda Hetzel, Holley Harrison, Ellen Corman,, Kristen Larrimore, Meagan Jackson, Lori Bonds, Lauren Lyles, Jennifer Martin, Jaime Drew, Kristen Lyles, Stacey Gibbs, Mandi Norton and Shelby Moore.
In the first game of the tournament, EA would fall behind 1-0 with, EA coming to bat. Lead-off batter Meagan Jackson singled, Lori Bonds sacrificed her to second, Lauren Lyles was hit by a pitch and Jennifer Martin doubled.
Before the second out was recorded, the EA ladies had tied the score. The Lady Cougars would never again trail in the tournament. The score remained tied until the bottom of the second when with one out, Shelby Moore, Jackson and Bonds all drew a base on balls. L. Lyles hit a long sacrifice fly to score Moore for the go-ahead run. Before the inning was over, Jackson, Bonds, Martin (two RBIs,double) and Jaime Drew crossed the plate as Kristen Lyles delivered a base clearing triple. The score Lady Cougars 6, Lady Braves 1. Warrior Academy would plate two runs in the third. With runners at second and third and two outs, Lady Warrior Jeannie Colson drove a ball into deep left field, but EA's Shelby Moore would make an outstanding running catch to rob Colson of a hit and record the third out. EA's ladies would put the game away in the bottom of the third as they sent 14 batters to the plate scoring nine runs. They added one in the fourth to end it by the run rule 16-5 in five innings. EA's defense would give up five runs on six hits, two walks, one hit batter, and one strikeout.
Clarke Prep's Lady Gators, took the field against the Lady Cougars in their second game of the tournament. The Lady Cougars struck first in the bottom of the first inning as Lori Bonds (triple) scored on an RBI single by Lauren Lyles who then crossed the plate as Jaime Drew ripped another RBI single. EA led 2-0. While EA's defense was shutting the Lady Gators out, the offense would score at least two runs every inning to build an 11-0 lead after four innings of play. With two outs and a runner at first, Lady Gator Cindy King drove a line drive into right field. The defensive play of the game would be turned in by Jaime Drew and Jennifer Martin, as Drew would field King's ball on one hop and fire it to an outstretched JMar to rob King of her hit. EA would end it in five innings. EA's defense would give up zero runs on onehit, and three bases on balls. Bonds recorded three strikeouts.
Game three proved to be EA's toughest challenge. Ashford Academy's Ivey Jeffcoat and Escambia Academy's Lori Bonds went head to head in a pitchers' duel. Bonds would strike out the side in the first. in the bottom half of the inning, Bonds and Lauren Lyles singled and both scored on an Ashford throwing error. EA led 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth. Mandi Norton started a two out rally with a single and scored with the aid of two Ashford throwing errors. Shelby Moore reached on an error and scored on a triple by Meagan Jackson. EA's ladies added their final run in the fifth when Martin reached on an error, Jaime Drew sacrificed her to second, and she then scored on an RBI single by Kristen Lyles. Ashford managed to score one unearned run in the sixth on a lead off walk and a rare EA throwing error. EA's defense retired the ladies from Ashford Academy in order in the seventh to advance to the championship game. EA's defense would give up one unearned run, one hit, and one walk, as Bonds struck out 13 batters.
Clarke Prep's Lady Gators would battle through the losers bracket to meet EA for the second time in the championship game. The Lady Gators would go three-up, threedown in the top of the first inning. The Lady Cougars scored 6 runs on 6 hits in the bottom of the first. They would then add 4 in the bottom of the fourth to win, 10-0.
Jackson had seven hits, five runs, three RBIs and three walks. Lori Bonds had three hits, five runs, seven walks, and one RBI. Lauren Lyles had six hits, five runs, one walk, and six RBIs. Jennifer Martin had three hits, seven runs, four walks, and two RBIs. Jaime Drew had three hits, four runs, three walks, and four RBIs. Kristen Lyles had seven hits, four runs, and nine RBIs. Stacey Gibbs had four hits, four runs, two walks, and one RBI. Mandi Norton had five hits, six runs, one walk, and two RBIs. Shelby Moore had one hit, two runs, three walks, and three RBIs. As a team, the Lady Cougars batted .477 in the four-game sweep. They shortened three out of the four games to protect their pitcher's arm. The Lady Cougars proved to have the best defense at the 1A tourney. If a mistake was made, almost every time they would either turn a double play or make a spectacular catch to erase it. This defense would only give up five runs the first game and in the last three games would give up just one.
On the mound, Lori Bonds would go the distance as she pitched 22 innings, giving up six hits in the first game, and I hit in each of the last three games. She walked seven batters and recorded 21 strikeouts.
Seniors Jennifer Martin, Lauren Lyles, and Kristen Lyles were named to the state All Tournament Team. Lori Bonds received the Most Valuable Player award. The team, however, would receive the most coveted award as they were crowned state chamsps.
Coaches Larry and Helen Lassiter stated, "We are very proud of all 18 ladies on this team. They worked very hard all season long. We are especially proud of seniors Jennifer Martin, Lauren Lyles, and Kristen Lyles for the leadership that they have shown both on and off the field. All three have been a pleasure to coach." EA athletic director, Chad Prewett said, "Lady Cougars-State Champs. You just can't say that enough this year."