Saturday, May 17, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears take win in first round

Leader sportswriter

In the opening round of the class 5A state softball tournament Friday at Jacksonville’s Dupree Park, Sylvan Hills senior Michelle Sorensen pitched a complete game shutout and scored the game’s only run to lead the Lady Bears to a 1-0 victory over Watson Chapel.

Sorensen was dominant in the circle. She struck out nine Lady Wildcat batters and gave up just four hits and no walks in the seven innings of work.

“I feel really good about how she threw,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “She came out real focused. She did all the things we needed her to do to keep us in the ball game and to eventually, of course, win the ball game.”

The Lady Bears (20-6) played one of their best games defensively as well, as they committed no errors in the field. Watson Chapel (15-11), on the other hand, committed two errors, one of which put Sorensen in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“The defense backed her (Sorensen) up,” Anderson said. “We had some rough moments, but we didn’t fall a part. We came back and made the play to get through it.

“Like any great pitcher or good ballplayer, they have to have other people do something. She did a great job today and I’m proud of her, but I’m proud of our team for the way they handled today. They came out and got the job done.”

The pitching duel between Sorensen and Watson Chapel’s Lexie Downing led to a scoreless first three innings of play, but Sylvan Hills broke through in the bottom of the fourth.

Sorensen started the inning with a slow roller to the pitcher. She beat the throw to first for the infield single, but the throw was out of reach for Lady Wildcat first baseman Jamie Bridges, and Sorensen ran to third base on the errant throw.

Two batters later, Sorensen scored on a one-out single to center field by fellow senior and three-hole hitter Ashley Broadway, which gave the Lady Bears the 1-0 lead. Neither team seriously threatened to score for the remainder of the game.

Three-hole hitter Natalie Johnson popped out to Lady Bears’ catcher Cara Possa to lead off the top of the seventh, and Sorensen struck out cleanup hitter Sydney Crossett the next at-bat before Lauren McFalls hit into a 5-3 groundout to end the game in Sylvan Hills’ favor.

Watson Chapel, the No. 4 seed from the South, actually outhit Sylvan Hills 4-2. Sorensen and Broadway led the Lady Bears, the top seed from the Central, with two singles.

Megan Moore, Downing, Lauren McCullough and Maegan Greer each had one hit to lead the Lady Wildcats’ offense.

The Lady Bears will play Greene County Tech in the second round of the class 5A state playoffs today at 5:30 p.m. at Dupree Park. GCT, the No. 3 East seed, beat Greenbrier, the two seed from the West, 5-2 yesterday morning to advance to the second round.

The winner of today’s game will play in the semifinals of the 5A state softball tournament Monday at 2:30 p.m.