Win slips away

Published 1:32 pm Monday, April 16, 2012

Escambia County Lady Devils pitcher Kaylee Cox slings a pitch during the Lady Devils’ game against UMS-Wright on Thursday, while first baseman Y-netta Craft looks on.

Jasmine Ireland set the tone of the game for the Escambia County Lady Blue Devils, but her impact would not be enough to get her team a win over UMS-Wright.

Ireland (5-for-5, 3B, 2B, 4R, 3RBIs) ripped a triple in her first at-bat, but the chance to create a three-way tie in Area 1 fell through the fingers of the Lady Devils (12-8, 3-3), as the Lady Bulldogs slipped away with a 16-13 victory.

Both teams gave stellar performances at the plate with UMS-Wright recording 21 hits and ECHS earning 19 of their own.

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The battle for an area title was an impressive game for the entire seven innings, Lady Devils Head Softball Coach Darryl Otwell said.

“It was a great game,” he said. “There was a lot of hitting involved, which was good for us because we have struggled recently swinging the bat. I give credit to UMS-Wright for getting the big hits when they needed them, but our girls battled and just came up short at the end.”

Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Devils trailed 16-10, but began a rally, as Diamond Williams (2-for-4, 2R), Tristen Boothe (2-for-4, 3R) and Ireland all opened the inning with runs to close the gap to 16-13.

The runners were there to get create a tie and possibly a win, but a controversial call involving Kaylee Cox (4-for-5, 3RBIs, 2 2B, R) atthird base led to the second out of the inning, which was followed up by three batters later by a Lexi Daughtry (4-for-5, 2R) groundout to end the game.

The three-run loss showed a more competitive team than the one that made the trip to Mobile on March 14 when ECHS lost 15-0 at UMS-Wright.

This time around, the motivation to fight for a No. 1 seed in the area tournament was shown, Otwell said.

“The big difference was we showed up and competed,” he said. “We came in ready to play and played for the full 21 outs. We battled and we didn’t give runs away. All we can ask is for our girls to play as hard as they did even when the ball didn’t fall their way at the end.”

Early in the game it looked as if UMS-Wright would run away with the game, as they took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Escambia County bounced back in the bottom of the first three innings to eventually hold a 6-5 lead.

UMS-Wright would rally in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 16-6 lead, which was shortened by ECHS rallies in the sixth and seventh innings.

Closing the gaps to put the team in a chance to win was something Otwell was unsure if his team could do.

“My largest concern was how our girls would react to calls going against them and being down,” he said. “When we go into the final two innings and give ourselves a chance with the tying run at the plate that’s all we can really ask for.”

Other Lady Blue Devils recording hits in the contest included Taylor Hill (1-for-5) and Y-netta Craft (2-for-5). Sierra Smith (0-for-2, 2BB, R) also scored a run for ECHS in the loss.

The Lady Blue Devils next game will be in the area tournament against the Saraland Lady Spartans at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1.