Tuesday, May 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville ladies pummel Pine Bluff

Leader sports editor

The Lady Titans punched their ticket to the Class 6A state tournament last Friday, beating Pine Bluff 13-3 at Excel Park in the first round of the 6A-East Conference tournament.

It wasn’t a great start for the fourth-seeded home team. Jacksonville pitcher Lindsey Holt issued three walks, and two fielding errors helped the Lady Zebras take a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

“We were either flat or really nervous at the start of the game,” said Jacksonville coach Hank Hawk. “When we got our bats going in the second inning I think we settled down. Defensively, those first two innings were shaky, but we pulled through it and got a big win.”

Jacksonville tied the game in the bottom of the first after Holt drew a leadoff walk and Rebekah House singled to right field. With two outs, Emma Gartman hit a two-RBI base hit center field to score the base runners.

Pine Bluff loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the second inning on two singles and an error, but Holt got a grounder to third to get out of the jam.

That brought the Lady Titans to the plate in the bottom of the second, when they scored four runs and took the lead for good.

Pine Bluff (13-12) helped Jacksonville get the rally started. Makira Hines and Abby Hooper reached on back-to-back errors in the outfield.

Megan Davis then singled to drive in the second run of the inning. Holt and House drew back-to-back walks before Jordan Moody got a two-RBI base hit for a 6-2 Jacksonville lead.

Holt and House drew back-to-back two-out walks again in the third inning, and Allison Seats lined a double to right field to score Holt for a 7-2 lead.

Neither team scored in the fourth, but Jacksonville posted six in the fifth to end the game early.

“It was funny because I said to the girls when they came in after the top of the fifth, ‘Let’s just score six runs and get this thing over with.’ And that’s just what they did,” Hawk said.

Seats got the game-ending rally started with a line-drive triple to center field. Moody was hit and Gartman got her third and fourth RBIs of the game with a double to left field. With one out, Hines walked to put runners on base. Both of them scored on back-to-back outfield errors after contact by Hooper and Davis.

Holt drew her fourth walk in as many at-bats to load the bases. House then ended it with a double to left field that drove in the final two runs and ended the contest.

Holt got the win in five innings of work in the circle. She gave up four hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Seats, Gartman, Hooper and Davis each had two base hits to lead Jacksonville offensively.

Jacksonville (13-12) advanced to play top-seeded Marion (19-7) on Tuesday after Leader deadlines.

The Lady Titans will also play Thurs-day, either in the tournament championship game for a one or two seed in the state tournament, or in the third-place game for a three or four seed.