The Sonoraville offense finished off Game 1 of their Region 6-AAA Playoff first-round doubleheader with a flurry and then came out of the gates in Game 2 with a huge early-inning statement. The result was a sweep of North Murray and the Lady Phoenix clinching their fifth straight State Tournament berth.
Sonoraville (16-11) won the first game on Tuesday afternoon, 8-1, after adding five insurance runs in the sixth, and they scored 14 runs over the first three innings in Game 2 to coast to a 14-6 victory and end the Lady Mountaineers’ season. The Lady Phoenix, the top seed from 6-AAA South, now move ahead to the second round where they will host rival Calhoun on Saturday for a doubleheader starting at 10 a.m. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be played Monday.
As far as Tuesday’s offensive explosion was concerned, Sonoraville coach Chad Hayes said he really happy with the way his team swung the bats, especially coming off almost a week layoff since their last regular-season game.
“Offensively, I’m very pleased with what we did at the plate today,” said Hayes. “We haven’t played in almost a week so you really don’t know what to expect, coming off a little layoff like that. But we did a little intrasquad scrimmage yesterday at practice, and I think that helped. I know that if we can hit off our own pitchers, who are some of the best around, I know we can hit anybody. That seemed to transfer over to today. When you get the kind of offensive output we did today, it makes things easier for our pitching and defense to relax and play well. I was pleased with our offense, but I’m pleased with everything today. I think we played two very good games altogether.”
Game 1 started out as a pitcher’s duel as both Sonoraville’s Kristen Davis and Talli Burgess made it difficult for the opposing offense even when runners reached base as they worked out of multiple jams. North Murray (12-15) got on the board first in the top of the second as a throw got away on a stolen base attempt and allowed Tatum Brown to come home to make it 1-0.
Davis stopped the threat without any further damage, and her offense quickly responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game 1-1 on an RBI-double by Karley Thomas. Sonoraville took the lead for good in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by Sandra Beth Pritchett and Griffin Holden, and then they added five in the sixth to put the game away on a string of several consecutive hits. The big blows in the inning came on a two-RBI single by Holden and an RBI-double from Payton Townsend.
Pritchett finished Game 1 with a 3-for-4 effort and two RBIs, and five other Lady Phoenix had two hits, including Harleigh Chastain (double, stolen base, two runs scored), Holden (three RBIs), Townsend (double, RBI), Thomas (double, RBI) and Mollie Locke (two runs scored).
Davis was locked in to earn the complete-game win in the circle as she went seven innings and gave up one run (unearned) on five hits while striking out 11.
August Miles had two hits for North Murray in the Game 1 loss, and Brown and Jodi Evans each added a double. Hayes said Davis continued the same pattern of what she’s done all season in the circle.
“Anytime she goes out there, the other team is fighting an uphill climb,” said Hayes. “She really put them at a disadvantage early, and they didn’t get much off her. She will scatter a few hits, but just like today showed, it is hard for teams to string it together against her. She gives us a great chance of winning every time she’s pitching.”
The Sonoraville offense had no plans of waiting around until late in the game to take control of Game 2 as they immediately got on the board with a crooked number thanks to six runs in the first. They then added two more in the second and once again scored six in the third to go ahead 14-0.
North Murray scored four runs in the fourth and two in the fifth, but by then the game was out of reach and Sonoraville had entered many of their younger players to get some valuable postseason experience.
Sonoraville got contributions up and down the lineup in the Game 2 win led by a 3-for-3, two-RBI effort from Townsend and a 2-for-4, two-double, four-RBI game from Alyssa Hughes. Also contributing were Holden with a double, an RBI and three runs scored, Shayna Dutton with a hit and two RBIs, Pritchett and Thomas with a hit and an RBI apiece and Davis and Harleigh Chastain with a hit and two runs scored apiece.
Hughes earned the win by pitching three innings and giving up two runs on six hits while striking out two. She pitched the first two innings and then came back in to finish the game off in the fifth. Sarah-Anne Arthur also pitched in relief and went two innings, giving up four runs on five hits while striking out one. Arthur was one of several younger players that got a chance to enter the game late.
“You never know what’s going to down the line as far as someone getting hurt or having to miss a game and having players that can step right in and fill the gap is big,” said Hayes. “I feel like we have a lot of talented girls that could do that, and it was nice to get them in the game tonight, get them some playoff experience and hopefully give them some confidence.”
The Lady Phoenix will now focus on their second-round matchup against Calhoun, who they split with in the regular season. Hayes said that while it is nice to have the State berth already clinched for a fifth straight season, his team has bigger goals in mind.
“It’s nice that we’ve gotten to a point in our program where we feel good about making it to State every year,” said Hayes.
“That has become our expectation, and we came out and took care of business today to make that happen. But we have some other goals that we want to accomplish, including playing for a region title. We want to stay aggressive and not be satisfied. We want to win a region title.”