Tuesday, April 04, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills rallies past Lions

Leader sports editor

A pitchers’ duel finally came to an end after one extra inning Friday in Sherwood, where the Sylvan Hills softball team prevailed 2-1 over Searcy with a walk-off single by freshman Destiny Sanders in a nonconference matchup.

Sanders was also the winning pitcher, throwing a five-hitter over eight innings, but Searcy’s Maegan Pistokache utterly dominated until the eighth.

“It took us until about the sixth inning to start getting on her (Pistokache) at all,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “We had faced her earlier in the year when it was pretty cold and she wasn’t throwing as hard. It was warm Friday and she was bringing it up there about 62, 63 miles per hour. We were just having all kinds of trouble. We had just come off playing Jacksonville, and they don’t have anyone that can throw like that. She just was having a great game. Late in the game, she made a couple mistakes and we were finally able to start finding the timing, and were able to get the win.”

Searcy (7-6, 2-2) scored its only run in the top of the eighth inning, despite automatic base runner making the second out on a fielder’s choice.

With two outs and a runner at first, Jessi Harwell doubled to the fence in right field to put two runners in scoring position. Jessica Bailey then singled to left, but Storm Ellis made a good play on the ball that only allowed one run to score and forced Harwell to hold at second base.

That was huge, because Sara Grace Weaver also singled to Ellis, who again was able to keep Harwell from advancing beyond third base. With the bases loaded, Sanders got Lauren Joyner to strikeout looking after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches.

In the bottom of the eighth, Addison Harper went to second base to start the inning, and moved to third on a bunt single by Cara Pozza. Pistokache hit Ellis with 2-1 pitch to load the bases. She struck out MacKenzie Rodgers, but Sanders came through with a ground ball to center field that scored Harper and Ellis to win the game.

Anderson bragged on his defense, not just for Friday’s performance, butthe whole week.

“We didn’t have any errors, and I think only one error in all three games we played this week,” Anderson said. “We had been committing a lot of errors. Cutting those down like we have is huge. Our defense has been outstanding this week, and hopefully we can keep it up. We pitch and hit pretty well for the most part, but we’ve given away too many runs. If we can keep playing this kind of defense it will definitely help us become a more well rounded team.”

Joy Franco went 2 for 2 to lead Sylvan Hills. Searcy’s Jessica Bailey was the only Lady Lion with multiple hits. She went 2 for 3.

Sanders struck out four and walked zero. Pistokache finished with 16 strikeouts to just one walk and one hit batter.

Sylvan Hills (11-6, 6-0) plays Beebe on the road on Monday. It’s not officially a conference game, but because of the mixed conferences and classifications, it is an important one.
“It’s like I told the girls, it’s not a conference game, but it’s the most important game of the year,” Anderson said. “They’re in a conference postseason tournament, and the winner of this game is going to decide who’s No. 1 and who’s No. 2 seed in that tournament.”