Friday, May 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills ladies beat Paragould 4-3

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ softball team survived a scare in the opening round of the class 5A state tournament, coming from behind to beat Paragould 4-3 in extra innings Thursday at Wynne.

The Lady Bears’ season looked as if it was coming to an abrupt end heading into the bottom of the seventh as Paragould, the No. 4 seed from the East, took a 3-2 lead in the top part of the inning after Emily Hamilton hit a clutch two-out single to straight center that allowed Sarah Dicus to score from second.

It would’ve been easy for Sylvan Hills to get down after such a close game where both teams struggled to get anything going offensively, but the Lady Bears (20-5, 14-0) refused to quit and took advantage of every opportunity the Lady Rams (15-14, 7-7) gave them in the bottom of the seventh.

Centerfielder Jordie Flippo was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and Callie Cavender followed by laying down a well-executed bunt to put Flippo in scoring position. Brittney Hubbird came to the plate hoping to drive Flippo in, but instead grounded out.

Hubbird’s contact allowed Flippo to advance to third, but the No. 1 seeded Lady Bears were one out away from calling it a year. Leadoff hitter and ace pitcher Michelle Sorensen was the last hope for Sylvan Hills.

With two outs and Sorensen behind in the count, it wasn’t looking good for Sylvan Hills. However, the next pitch was low and passed through the catcher’s legs, and Flippo raced home and slid in feet first to tie the score at three.

As the eighth inning began, the international tie-breaker rule was put into effect. This means at the beginning of each team’s at-bat, the last batter from the previous inning is automatically placed on second base.

Sylvan Hills’ defense held strong and didn’t give up any runs in the inning. In the bottom part of the inning with Sorensen at second, cleanup hitter Tranice Hayes hit a walk off single that sailed over the right fielder’s head, giving the Lady Bears the hard-earned win.

“As far as facing adversity like that, they always seem to bounce back,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jeff Johnson of his team. “That’s just a testimonial to the girls and to the parents that are raising them, and I just don’t give enough credit to my defense.

“A lot of times our defense could’ve cashed it in, but they got us out of a lot of deep trouble on the bags. Defensive-wise they pulled through, so hats off to our defense. They continue to play and play hard.”

Sorensen earned the win for the Lady Bears as she struck out seven in eight innings of work. Hayes led Sylvan Hills at the plate with two hits. Sorensen, Tyra Williams, and Flippo each had a hit apiece.

Sylvan Hills continued its run at the state title yesterday against Alma. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s edition of the Leader for scores and stats.