Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Tech defeats Lady Bears in quarterfinals

Leader sportswriter

Saturday’s class 5A state softball tournament quarterfinal round between Sylvan Hills and Greene County Tech was a pitchers’ duel throughout, but the Lady Eagles got a timely RBI hit from cleanup hitter Elizabeth Gatlin in the top of the seventh to beat the Lady Bears 1-0 at Jacksonville’s Dupree Park.

Sylvan Hills’ senior ace Michelle Sorensen had another dominant performance in the circle. She threw all seven innings and finished with 12 strikeouts, and gave up just two walks, two hits and the one earned run that came in the top of the seventh inning.

The only problem was that GCT’s senior ace, Shayna Beaver, was just as dominant, as she too threw all seven innings and finished with a game-high 15 strikeouts. She gave up three hits to the Lady Bears (20-7), but issued no walks and no runs.

“These kids, they played the best game they played all year and just happened to lose,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “They gave it all they had.

“I feel terrible for them for how it ended, and the way they played I just don’t feel like it should’ve ended that way, but somebody has to lose and it happened to be us today.”

Neither team was able to muster a hit their first time around the order. Sorensen retired eight of the first nine Lady Eagle batters she faced, five of which were strikeouts, and the other three were 1-3 groundouts.

Beaver, though, retired all nine Lady Bears batters their first trip around the order – eight of which were strikeouts.

“This was the probably the best one all year as far as a pitching duel,” Anderson said, “with each pitcher taking care of everybody up and down the lineup, but something always falls right for somebody and it hurts the other team.”

Sorensen broke the Lady Bears’ hitless streak in the bottom of the fourth with an infield single, and sophomore Tori Crites singled in the bottom of the fifth. Both runners advanced to third base in those innings, but never crossed home plate, keeping the game at 0-0.

After a scoreless six innings, Beaver walked with one out in the top of the seventh. The Lady Eagles (19-10) brought in a pinch runner with Gatlin at the plate, and the runner was able to advance to second base on a passed ball at the plate.

Gatlin worked Sorensen to a full count before she singled to center field, driving in the game’s lone run. Crites got her second hit of the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Beaver got her 15th strikeout of the game the next at-bat to end the game in the Lady Eagles’ favor.

It was a tough end to another successful season for Sylvan Hills, and it was the final game for seniors Sorensen, Ashley Broadway and Jordie Flippo, all of whom played pivotal roles in the Lady Bears’ success in their time with the team. Anderson said all three of those players will be missed.

“They all have good leadership qualities,” Anderson said of his seniors. “They’re great ballplayers, which helps, because when they’re great ballplayers everybody wants to listen to you. Nobody listens to the person that’s not very good.

“That helped them to be leaders because they all can play, and because they have played every year they’ve been a part of different situations pretty much every year. They’ve learned and they’ve helped the team learn from different things. So they’ve been a big part of building the program here.”

Crites led the Lady Bears at the plate, going 2 for 3 with two singles. Sorensen was 1 for 3 with a single. Beaver and Gatlin had GCT’s two hits.