Saturday, May 17, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe badgered by Airedalettes

Leader sportswriter

It took eight innings, but Alma found a way to upset Beebe in the first round of the class 5A state softball tournament Friday at Dupree Park in Jacksonville, as the Airedalettes beat the Lady Badgers by the final score of 2-1.

Beebe, the No. 2 East seed, scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning, but Alma knotted up the score at 1-1 with a run in the fourth before setting the final score in the first and only extra inning in the eighth.

It was a clean game throughout, as neither team committed an error in the eight innings played.

Beebe actually outhit Alma 7-5, but the Airedalettes simply made one more play at the plate than the Lady Badgers did, which is what eliminated the higher-seeded Beebe in the end.

“They played really well defensively,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers of Alma, “and we just didn’t get the hits when we needed to get the hits.

“We left a lot of people on base as we popped up quite a few times. It’s tough to keep one run from scoring. Alma played really good defense and we knew their defense would be good, and we just had an off day at the plate.

“We didn’t get hits when we needed them.”

Beebe had its best opportunity to score additional runs in the bottom of the fifth with the score tied at 1-1.

The Lady Badgers had the bases loaded with one out in the inning, but Courtney Shepard, the team’s two-hole hitter, lined out to center field the next at-bat, and three-hole hitter Nikita Howell flew out to left the next at-bat to end the inning.

Beebe had another chance in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Haley Dinapoli singled to left field to lead off the inning, and pitcher Ellie Reaves advanced MaKenzie Free, Dinapoli’s courtesy runner, to second base with a sacrifice bunt.

Sophomore Aleighu Porterfield singled to center field the next at-bat, and Chambers waved Free home as the ball rolled to Alma center fielder Cierra Rainwater.

As Free rounded third base, Rainwater made a perfect throw to catcher Charley Wilbourn, who was able to apply the tag on Free just before she could safely slide in. That sent the game to extra innings.

With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of seven innings, the international tiebreaker rule was put into effect, which automatically puts the last batter who was out in the previous inning at second base.

That put Rainwater, who popped out the previous inning, at second base, and she advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Alora Perry.

Leadoff hitter Shaylee Sevenstar then came to the plate and drove in Rainwater with an RBI single to left-center field, which put Alma up 2-1.

Courtney Cauldwell started the bottom part of the inning at second base for Beebe, and she advanced to third base on a sac bunt by leadoff hitter Madelyn Poe.

Beebe, though, failed to capitalize as the Lady Badger two- and three-hole hitters flew out to the shallow right side of the diamond to end the game.

Poe scored the first run of the game on a passed ball at the plate after she hit a bunt single to start the bottom of the first inning, which gave the Lady Badgers a 1-0 lead.

Alma, however, tied the game at 1-1 with a two-out, stand-up double to the fence in right field by Alexys Criswell, which allowed teammate Abbye Ostrander to score from third base after she hit a double two batters earlier.

Dinapoli led the Lady Badgers at the plate, going 3 for 3 with three singles. Porterfield, Poe, Shepard and Megan Davlin each had one hit apiece for Beebe (23-5).

Criswell led Alma at the plate. She was 2 for 3 with an RBI.

Alma (12-15), the three seed from the West, will play White Hall in the second round of the 5A state tournament today at 12:30 p.m. at Dupree Park.