Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SPORTS>> Lady Devils on two game losing streak

IN SHORT: Jacksonville softball team loses to Searcy and Greenbrier last week. It was the team’s first back-to-back losses this season.

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils are now in the midst of a losing streak after dropping their second game in a row Friday to class AAAA powerhouse Greenbrier.
The Lady Devils handed the Lady Panthers their first loss of the season a week earlier in the Harrison tournament, but fell 3-1 Friday at Greenbrier.

“Amanda Burgess did a great job pitching and we didn’t have any errors,” Greenbrier coach Tommy Reed said. “You feel like you give yourself a chance to win when you get both of those things.”

Greenbrier took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Jan McCollum was hit by a Jessica Bock pitch and scored on the next at bat when Shannon Pickard doubled off the wall in left-centerfield.

It became a pitchers’ duel after that, with Jacksonville getting the only run over the next four innings.

That run came in the top of the third when freshman Lady Devil Taylor Norsworthy doubled to drive in Jacksonville’s only run of the game.

Greenbrier scored the game-winning runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Burgess singled to start things off, but it appeared that Jacksonville would thwart the threat. With two outs, however, Amy Allen doubled to drive in Burgess for the winning run. The Lady Panthers added an unearned run on the next at bat when a line drive into left field bounced off the outfielder’s glove to score Allen.

The loss to Greenbrier comes on the heels of a shocking, 10-inning loss to big underdog Searcy in a AAAAA-East conference game. The Lady Lions scored four runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to prevail 5-4 after Jacksonville had taken a 4-1 lead.

Searcy was Jacksonville’s first victim of the season. In that game, Bock threw a perfect game over seven innings and struck out 19 of the 21 batters she faced.
That wasn’t the case last week, as Searcy picked up five base hits and took advantage of a few Lady Devil mistakes to get the upset victory.

“That was a huge win for us,” Searcy coach Mike McCain said. “It puts us right back in the playoff race and really may have given us an upper hand.”

Jacksonville, Cabot and West Memphis all have one conference loss and stand tied at the top of the league standings.

Searcy, Mountain Home and Jonesboro are battling for the final playoff spot while Forrest City has just one win, it coming against winless Sylvan Hills.

The Lady Lions are now 5-2 in league play and 6-7 overall.

Jacksonville’s losses dropped the Lady Devils to 9-3 on the season.

The Lady Devils’ next game is a conference doubleheader at Mountain Home.

Jacksonville will host its annual Lady Devil Classic this weekend, which features several of the state’s top teams from around the state in all classifications.