Friday, March 30, 2012

SPORTS >> Jacksonville cruises past Blue Devils

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils got an easy win in 6A East play Thursday, beating West Memphis 10-0 in five innings to improve to 2-2 in league play and 2-4 overall.

Whitney House took the mound at Dupree Park and got the win for the Lady Red Devils. She went the distance, giving up just two hits, walking none while striking out six Lady Blue Devils.

Jacksonville hit the ball well and got a lot of help from an error prone visiting team. Jacksonville’s first run was unearned. House led off and reached base on an error. With two outs, cleanup hitter Mailani Walker knocked her in with a sacrifice grounder.

Jacksonville scored three runs with two outs in the second inning on just one base hit. Alexis Goodman walked with two outs to get a runner on base. Nine-hole hitter Keke Alcorn then reached with a grounder to shortstop that the West Memphis infielder overthrew to first base.

House then singled to left field to drive in one run. An error at second base off the bat of Shyrel McKinney scored the second run of the inning. Haley Hickingbotham then hit a deep drive to left field that was dropped, then McKinney scored when her throw to third base went through the West Memphis third baseman’s legs.

That made it 5-0 and Jacksonville failed to push any runs across in the third inning.

Jacksonville got another big inning in the fourth, but it should have been bigger. House led off with another walk and another error in left field left House and McKinney safe at third and second base. Hickingbotham then hit a deep shot down the third base line for a standup double that drove in both runners. She scored on a passed ball on the next at bat to clear the bases, still with no outs.

Walker grounded out to third base for the first out, but the next three batters reached to load the bases. Bailey Mallison walked and Coyja Hood and Bailea Jones singled. Goodman then hit a shot deep to centerfield where it was caught, and Mallison got doubled up at third after failing to tag up before heading to home plate.

The base running mistake only delayed the inevitable.

West Memphis got its leadoff runner on base for the second consecutive inning, but for the second straight time, went down in order after that.

That brought Jacksonville back to the plate with an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Alcorn and House led off with back-to-back walks. House was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice at third base. Hickingbotham and Walker reached on back-to-back errors at shortstop and Bailey Mallison got the game-ending RBI with an infield single that made it 10-0.

Jacksonville got six base hits and walked five times while also reaching on nine West Memphis errors.

The win pulled the Lady Red Devils even in conference play after suffering a heartbreaking loss at Marion on Tuesday.

Hickingbotham gave Jacksonville an early lead with a solo homerun in the first inning, but Marion took scored three in the third to go up 3-1.

Jacksonville then scored seven in the bottom of the third for an 8-3 lead, but the bats went silent for the next three innings.

Meanwhile Marion began swinging the bats well. The Lady Patriots scored four in the fourth to make it 8-7 and Jacksonville added two in the bottom of the sixth to go up 10-7.

But a few Jacksonville fielding mistakes, some timely hitting and an arguable call led to a five-run seventh that gave Marion the 12-10 win.

“They had the bases loaded with two outs and the girl hit a line drive down the third baseline,” Jacksonville coach Kevin Sullivan said. “I thought it might’ve been foul but it rolled past our fence and we chased it instead of just throwing our hands up and calling for the ground rule double. Umpire said if the player gives chase, you play it. They cleared the bases and took the lead.”

Jacksonville is in a tournament in Fayetteville today for two games, one against Farmington and another against Gravette.