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Blacksher spoils improved home finale for WSN girls

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It has not always shown up on the scoreboard, but ask W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles softball coach Chuck Riddle about the amount of progress his team has made since he took over the reins and the answer will be an overwhelming "a lot."
"We've gotten a lot better. When I first took over we had multiple bad innings in games. Now we've pretty much cut that down to just one bad inning a game," Riddle said.
The fourth inning was W.S. Neal's downfall Monday when it dropped its home finale, a 13-2, six-inning decision to the J.U. Blacksher Lady Bulldogs.
J.U. Blacksher had just a 2-0 lead until a leadoff error opened the door to six unearned runs against starting pitcher Jessica Madden.
The Lady Blue Eagles (2-9) were able to fight off defeat by the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth inning after the visitors had scored twice in the top half of the inning and increased their advantage to 10-0.
W.S. Neal did not have a runner until Jessica Madden broke up the perfect game with a leadoff triple down the leftfield line in the bottom of the fifth. Madden was thrown out at the plate one batter later when Erica Davis hit a sharp grounder to third base.
That setback did not curtail the rally. Both Jessica Jaro and Jessica Lambert reached safely on fielder's choices that loaded the bases. Davis broke up the shutout when she scored on a wild pitch. After Katie Lowery walked to reload the bases and Quincy Jackson hit into a five-two fielder's choice, Amanda Ramirez walked with the bases full that forced in W.S. Neal's second run.
The Lady Blue Eagles were only able to get one additional hit in the game, a two-out single by Davis in the second inning.
"I'm poud of our progress. All three of the pitchers we used, Madden, Ramierez and Jessica Lambert, all threw well. Madden had a couple of good, hard hit balls and Erica also had a solid hit for us. We've got a lot of youth, mainly freshmen and eighth graders in our lineup. That youth has probably hurt us the most when we've had to do a lot of position swaps in the lineup," Riddle said. "It will be a big test for us at the Area Tournament Friday. Playing with youth in the regular season is one thing and playing with youth in the postseason is another when the season is on the line. I just hope we stay within ourselves and be competitive.
The Lady Blue Eagles wrap up the regular season Thursday with a doubleheader at McKenzie. W.S. Neal will then open up play at the Class 3A Area 1 Tournament at Brewton Friday where it faces T.R. Miller at 2 p.m.
At W.S. Neal
J.U. Blacksher 110 623 – 13 8 0
W.S. Neal 000 020 – 2 2 3