Power outage provides Neal girls spark but rally falls short at Jay
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
At the time, the only things the power outage at the Jay Field seemed to do were put everybody in the dark and delay an inevitable lopsided win for the host Lady Royals.
True, the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles had just broken up Jay's shutout at the time the lights went out. At the same time the Lady Royals still had what seemed to be a safe 9-1 lead.
In fact, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Jay came within an eyelash of ending the game on the 10-run rule. The Lady Royals had the winning rule on third base with only one out, but failed to score.
After a 20-minute delay, the Lady Eagles played perhaps their best two innings of the season even though their rally felt short in a 10-6 setback.
"If we play like we did the last two innings, we can be competitive with most teams. The girls didn't quit and it would have been easy to do so in that situation," W.S. Neal coach Shane Smothers said. "On the flip side, we still have that inning or two where we have some breakdowns and that is what is beating us."
While Lady Blue Eagles pitcher Abbie Howard allowed all 10 runs, she fell victim to seven errors by her defense. Only two of Jay's 10 runs were earned. Five of W.S. Neal's errors occurred in the infield.
The Lady Royals, who beat the Lady Blue Eagles 14-1 in W.S. Neal's season opener, jumped on the visitors right off the bat with a five-run first inning.
A leadoff double by Candace Gilmon was the only ball Jay hit into the outfield that inning. The Lady Royals scratched out three infield hits and took advantage of two W.S. Neal errors to net its five runs.
It was a similar situation in the second inning when the Lady Royals extended their lead to 7-0. Jay did not hit the ball out of the infield, but a hit batter, a walk, a wild pitch and an infield throwing error led to two more runs.
Jay got a two-run single from Joy Johnson in the bottom of the fifth inning when it increased its lead to 9-0.
Prior to the power outage, W.S. Neal's bats had a hard time against Lady Royals pitcher Shelly Autry. The Lady Blue Eagles had just one hit, a fourth inning single by Amber Cutts, although W.S. Neal batters drew four walks.
Autry came off the delay with control problems. She gave up a leadoff single to Brittany Tagudar and then issued walks to Tanya Hiers, Howard and Erika Davis to force in a run. Autry then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Hiers to make it 9-2. After Tabitha Hiers walked, Jessica Madden stroked an RBI single to make it 9-3.
Another wild pitch brought in another run and an RBI single by Lauren Anthony reduced the lead to just 9-5.
Jay got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning that increased their lead to 10-5, but W.S. Neal threatened again in the seventh inning.
Tanya Hiers led off the frame with a walk and moved up a base on a wild pitch. After a couple of outs, Davis drilled an RBI single that cut the lead to its final margin of 10-6.
"We made a nice comeback. We were about one big hit away from really making things interesting," Smothers said.
W.S. Neal (0-5) will try again for its first win today with a trip to J.U. Blacksher.
W.S. Neal 000 005 1 – 6 5 7
Jay 520 021 X – 10 8 0