Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SPORTS >> Lady Devils remain perfect

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: The Jacksonville softball team won four games and the Jacksonville tournament championship this weekend to improve to 7-0 overall so far this season.

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils won four games over the weekend, including three in the annual Jacksonville fast-pitch tournament, and won the tournament championship.

On Friday, the Lady Devils played their second conference game of the year, and run-ruled Sylvan Hills 10-0 in five innings.
The following day, they swept through Quitman Star City and DeWitt to earn their tournament championship. Jacksonville pitcher Jessica Bock continues to be strong on the mound, and the Lady Devils bats are picking things up.

Bock’s no-hitter for the season is gone. Star City got four hits in a 7-1 loss in the semifinals, but she came back from that game to dominate DeWitt. In the tournament championship, she threw her sixth no-hitter of the season, and struck out 19 Lady Dragons.

“She was on a mission in that game,” Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley said. “That was the best I’ve ever seen her throw, and that’s saying a lot because she’s had some pretty good games. This one though brother, she was out of her mind.”

DeWitt’s pitching wasn’t bad either, and kept Jacksonville off balance through five innings, but for the second time in the tournament, Jacksonville ex-ploded in the sixth.

With the score tied 0-0, the Lady Devils scored four runs off four hits. That held through the final inning as Jacksonville prevailed 4-0.

Leadoff hitter Gabriel Hart started the rally with a single to left-center field. Bock moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt and Taylor Norsworthy singled to score Hart.

Whitney Conrade sacrificed Norsworthy to second, and back-to-back singles by Somer Grimes and Ellen Burr drove in the last two runs.

Burr went 2 for 3 at the plate, and is hitting nearly .700 from the six hole in the lineup.

“She’s the one with the really hot bat right now,” Bradley said. “When you’re getting that kind of production from your six hitter, things are going pretty good.”

The seven, eight and nine hitters are coming along well also.

“For the first time since I’ve been here we’re getting production from the bottom of the lineup,” Bradley said. “When the top isn’t hitting, the bottom is picking it up.”

Jacksonville got at least one hit each from the last three hitters in the win over DeWitt, including a two-RBI, line-drive triple that hit the fence on the fly by nine-hole hitter Megan Towner.

Monica Fletcher went 2 for 3 from the seven spot.

Earlier in the day, Jackson-ville and Star City were tied 0-0 when the Lady Devils blew up for seven runs in the sixth inning.
In game one of the tournament, the Lady Red Devils run-ruled Quitman 10-0.

On Friday, Jacksonville didn’t take as long to get started, scoring eight runs in the first three innings to take command of the game early.

The Lady Devils pounded out 13 hits in the game, but left some runners stranded as well.

They pushed one run across the plate in the fourth, then added the game-ender in the fifth with a line drive to center field by Towner that scored Fletcher.

Burr got three hits and three RBIs in the game while Conrade also drove in three runs on two hits. The weekend’s activities leave the Lady Red Devils 7-0 on the season and 2-0 in conference play.

Their scheduled match with LR McClellan on Monday was cancelled and will not be rescheduled.
They are scheduled to play conference rival Cabot at home on Thursday.

The Lady Panthers beat Searcy 11-1 Friday to improve to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the AAAAA-East.