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Lady Tigers bag first Area crown

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The starting time for their first game got pushed back an hour due to field condtions. It then got pushed back another 10 minutes to allow W.S. Neal head coach Shane Smothers time to arrive from the state track meet. After they reached the championship game slot, they had to wait some more, as Clarke County and W.S. Neal battled it out to determine who their opponent would be.
The delays were well worth the time and trouble for the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers softball team. T.R. Miller captured its first ever Class 3A Area 1 championship Friday (actually Saturday was 30 minutes old when the last out was recorded) with a 13-1 triumph over Clarke County at the Brewton YMCA Park.
"It's a good moment for our program. Clarke County has a good program and we had to beat them twice," T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs said. "We played pretty well all the way around. We got pretty good pitching from Leigh Cooper, Rebekah Neal and Halie Ellis. We did a good job of putting the ball in play, we played good defense and we ran the bases well. Running the bases well is something we haven't done particularly well as of late."
The championship means the Lady Tigers (14-6) will be at home Tuesday when sub-state competition begins. T.R. Miller will play the Area 2 runner-up (Straughn, Abbeville, Barbour County and Elba). Elba hosted that tournament Saturday. Game time will be announced Monday.
T.R. Miller 11, W.S. Neal 0
The Lady Tigers opened the tournament with an 11-0, five-inning win over W.S. Neal. It was T.R. Miller's third win of the season over its arch rival and the second time in a week it had beaten the Lady Eagles by an 11-0 score at the YMCA Park.
T.R. Miller only had six hits in the game, but it benefitted from 10 walks and two hit batters. It also scored six runs on wild pitches.
Leigh Cooper moved from her usual shortstop position to the mound and responded with a one-hit performance. Cooper had a no-hitter going Tanya Hiers spoiled it with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"Leigh really did a great job. She has gotten a lot of time on the mound this season because we have Halie (Ellis) and Rebekah (Neal) plus we need her at shortstop, but she has been throwing the ball well lately," Riggs said.
T.R. Miller only had two hits in the first two innings when it built a 7-0 lead, but it did get key doubles by Charity Coleman and Jamie Peacock in
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a three-run third inning that put the 10-run rule into effect. Lacey Lucas contributed an RBI single in the fourth inning. Terri Lynne Peacock had two of the Lady Tigers other hits, one of them an RBI single in a three-run first inning.
T.R. Miller 7, Clarke County 6
In what was the most pivotal game of the tournament, the Lady Tigers assured themselves of a championship game berth and a sub-state berth with a 7-6 victory over the Clarke County Lady Bulldogs.
T.R. Miller snapped a 1-1 tie when it took the lead for good with a three-run third inning. Leigh Cooper's sacrifice fly put the Lady Tigers in front to stay, while Jamie Peacock followed with a key RBI double. Another run scored when Rebekah Neal reached on a throwing error.
Courtney Krehbiel singled and later scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning that put the lead up to 5-1.
After Clarke County cut the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning, T.R. Miller got those runs back in the sixth. Lacey Lucas and Charity Coleman beat our bunt singles. That set up a run on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Leigh Cooper to make it 7-3.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, four singles and two T.R. Miller errors led to three runs for Clarke County that cut the lead to just 7-6.
The Lady Bulldogs had the bases loaded and two out when winning pitcher Rebekah Neal got Sheppard to tap back to her. As Neal fielded the ball, she slipped. Neal then had to throw to catcher Terri Lynne Peacock sitting down for a force out at home plate to preserve the lead and eventually the win.
T.R. Miller 13, Clarke County 1
The championship rematch was a tight one for three innings although the Lady Tigers scarteched out a 2-0 lead during that span.
A similar combination led to both T.R. Miller runs. In the second inning, Courtney Krehbiel walked, went to seocnd on a wild pitch, moved over to third on an infield single by Halie Ellis and scored on a wild pitch.
In the thrid inning, Haley Rilling walked. After Leigh Cooper walked and Rebekah Neal beat out an infield hit to load the bases, Rilling scored on a wild pitch.
T.R. Miller broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning that made it 8-0.
The key blow was a two-run double by Neal. The other key play came three batters earlier when two runs scored off a fielder's choice on a ball hit by Leslie Nalty. A throwing error helped score the runs.
The Lady Tigers were able to end the game early with five more runs inthe sixth inning to make it 13-0. Jamie Peacock and Krehbiel each had RBI singels to highlight the rally.
Ellis became T.R. Miller's third different winning hurler of the night with a four-hitter.
First round
T.R. Miller 343 10 – 11 6 0
W.S. Neal 000 00 – 0 1 1
Semifinals
T.R. Miller 103 102 0 – 7 7 2
Clarke County 100 023 0 – 6 9 4
Championship
T.R. Miller 011 605 – 13 12 0
Clarke County 000 001 – 1 4 3