Lady Tigers roar past Dale County
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It was one of the least powerful of the 20 hits they had on the day in terms of distance, but it was one of the biggest in terms of impact.
When T.R. Miller's Leigh Cooper lofted a short blooper over Dale County first baseman Ashley Holten that drove in two runs and put the Lady Tigers ahead for good in the fourth inning of game two, it was the spark T.R. Miller needed to finish off the Lady Warriors in the first round of sub-state competition Tuesday at the Brewton Area YMCA Park.
T.R. Miller had already notched a 4-2 win in Tuesday's first game in the best-of-three series. Cooper's big hit in game two helped T.R. Miler complete the sweep with a 10-6 victory.
It was part of a huge day for Cooper, who had four hits and drove in six runs in the two-game sweep. Cooper also went the first six and one-third innings on the mound for the game two win.
Cooper and catcher Terri Lynne Peacock helped a potent one-two punch from the three-four spots in the lineup. Peacock had a single, a triple, a two-run homer and drove home five runs.
Senior Halie Ellis also played a significant role in T.R. Miller's advancement with four hits at the plate, a complete game five-hitter in game two and the last two outs for a save in game two.
T.R. Miller got a one-out single by Ellis followed by an RBI double by Cooper in the first inning of game one that gave the Lady Tigers a lead they never relinquished.
That lead grew to 3-0 in the third inning when Haley Rilling and Ellis beat out infield singles and Cooper and Peacock hit back-to-back RBI groundouts.
Ellis had a perfect game going until the fourth inning when a leadoff single by Sandy Parker ended it. An RBI double by Courtney Kidwell, a single by Lori Anderson and an infield single by Shae Mitchell trimmed the Lady Tigers' lead to 3-2.
After the fourth inning disturbance, Ellis allowed just two more hits the rest of the way.
Meanwhile Peacock gave her an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when she circled the bases after a triple and a throwing error.
T.R. Miller looked as if it would have little trouble ousting Dale County when it built a 5-0 lead in the first two innings of game two.
Three of those runs came in the top of the first inning (the Lady Tigers were the visiting team on the scoreboard). Ellis and Cooper both singled and so did Peacock. Peacock's hit into rightfield was misplayed into a three-base error that had the same impact as a three-run homer would have had.
In the second inning, Catherine Layton reached on an error, Taelor Robinson beat out an infield single and Rilling was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. After Ellis hit into a one-two forceout at the plate, Cooper lined a shot down the third base line that missed Robinson by a fraction of an inch. That hit, which drove in Robinson and Rilling, made it 5-0.
The Lady Warriors took advantage of two infield errors by the T.R. Miller and combined them with an RBI single by Monica Bowden, a two-run double by Kidwell and a run-scoring wild pitch that suddenly tied up the game at 5-5.
The inning ended with some
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controversy when Anderson was forced out on a throw to the plate with the bases loaded. Anderson came in with a high elbow to Peacock in an attempt to knock the ball loose. Instead Anderson's decision to come in standing up or with a slide led to her ejection and a lengthy discussion between officials and the Dale County coaching staff.
T.R. Miller stormed back with a decisive four-run top of the fourth inning. Catherine Layton singled and stole second ahead of an infield single by Rilling. With Layton at third, Rilling then moved into scoring position with a stolen base. That is when Cooper dumped her two-run single over the drawn in Dale County infield and put the Lady Tigers back in front 7-5.
One batter later Peacock found an unprotected gap in left-centerfield. As the ball rolled to the wall, Peacock circled the bases for a two-run homer that doubled the lead to 9-5.
The Lady Tigers regained their original five-run lead back in the top of the seventh inning when singles by Erin Byrne and Emily Layton set up an RBI single by Leslie Nalty that made it 10-5.
That cushion seemed like it would easily be enough, but in the bottom of the seventh inning a single, an outfield error, a walk and two wild pitches cut the lead to 10-6 and chased Cooper from the mound.
Ellis fell victim to a groundball error on the first batter she faced after she relieved Cooper, but she got a forceout and a strikeout that ended the game with the tying run at the plate.
T.R. Miller's game two win was its 18th of the season (against nine losses) and matched the school record for wins on the field set by last year's state tournament team. Last year's team officially had 21 wins, but three of those were forfeits.
Tuesday's series sweep sent T.R. Miller to Montgomery Catholic Saturday for the second and final round of sub-state competition for another best-of-three series. Montgomery Catholic ousted LAMP 5-3 and 3-0. Saturday's series winner will return to Montgomery Friday for the opening round of the Class 3A state tournament, which will be played at Lagoon Park.
Dale County 000 200 0 – 2 6 2
T.R. Miller 102 001 X – 4 6 2
T.R. Miller 320 400 1 – 10 14 4
Dale County 050 000 1 – 6 8 2