Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SPORTS >> JHS girls get split in league matchup

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville’s softball team got its first win of the season and opened conference play with a doubleheader spilt against Mountain Home on Friday at Dupree Park. The Lady Red Devils won game one 5-4 with some late heroics, then fell 6-2 in game two.

Whitney House was on the mound for the duration of both games for Jacksonville while Katie Paul did the same for Mountain Home.

Jacksonville led 4-2 after five innings in game one, but the Lady Bombers tied it with two runs in the sixth. It could have been more if not for an incredible double play that ended the Mountain Home rally.

The visitors started the inning with back-to-back triples to score one run. They squeezed in the second run that tied the game with one out and left the batter safe at first base. Another base hit went to centerfield, where Malani Walker made a great throw to home plate.

Catcher Alexis Goodman took the throw and tagged out the Mountain Home runner trying to score, but also spun up out of the tag position to throw out the batter that singled trying to sneak into second base. It was a very rare 8-2-4 double play

“That was a huge play,” Jacksonville coach Kevin Sullivan said. “If we don’t execute that, they’re up a run and still have two on base with just one out. That was great execution.”

In the bottom of the same inning, Bailey Mallison led off with a double over the head of Mountain Home’s centerfielder. Cojya Hood sacrificed her to third base and Kiki Alcorn got the game-winning RBI with a sacrifice grounder to second base.

House put the Lady Bombers down in order in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.

Jacksonville jumped out to an early lead and held it for four innings before things fell apart in the fifth.

Jacksonville led 2-0 in the fifth. Mountain Home had the bases loaded and two outs. Jacksonville should have gotten out of the inning, but a bad throw on a routine grounder allowed a run and opened the flood gates. Another error scored two more runs and the Lady Bombers led 4-2 before the inning ended.

Mountain Home’s bats came alive in the final two innings as the Bombers added two more runs to the total. Mountain Home compiled 12 base hits to go along with three Jacksonville errors.

“I think we just got tired,” Sullivan said of the late collapse in game two. “Whitney threw 77 pitches in game one and turned around and threw 88 in game two. In the first game she did a great job of controlling her pitches. She threw her off speed stuff for strikes and stayed ahead in the count. Later on in the second game, there just wasn’t as much on her pitches, and they started hitting her pretty good.”

Jacksonville moved to 1-1 in conference play and 1-3 overall. Mountain Home is also 1-1 in the 6A-East and is now 2-3 overall.

Jacksonville is off this week, but will travel to Marion on Tuesday and host West Memphis next Thursday, March 29.