Between Sarah Ham on the mound and the infield doing their job all night long, the Bozeman Lady Bucks didn’t have a real good chance of putting runs on the board Thursday night in Eastpoint.
The sophomore hurler allowed just a double and two singles, striking out nine and walking one and not allowing any Lady Buck to cross the plate.
The infield handled all their chances without fail, led by eighth grade second baseman Lilah Millender, who caught one on the fly and flipped all three of the other sharply hits balls her way to sophomore first baseman Michalyn O’Neal for the outs.
Seventh grade shortstop Addyson Mallon mastered her two opportunities, as did Ham, fielding the Franklin County Lady Seahawks to a 9-0 victory in the regional semifinals and a second chance to face the Lady Bulldogs in the regional title game Tuesday, where a berth in the Final Four for the Class 1A title will be on the line in Bristol.
Liberty County were also nine-run victors, scoring an 11-2 win over Sneads Thursday night.
“We played good on defense and Sarah pitched an outstanding game,” said coach Scott Collins. “We had some good hits and there were some at-bats we have to work on. We’re getting under the ball and we got to do better than that against Liberty County. To beat them we got to play better.
“We’ve played outstanding defense all year, especially the second half of the year. The second half of the year our defense has just been in shut-down mode,” he said. “If we play as good a defense as we played, and Sarah pitches as good as she pitched tonight, we’re in the game no matter what. But to win, we got to hit the ball. “
The Lady Seahawks hit the ball well enough to win from the start of the game, as Millender smacked a deep double to center field to get the ball rolling in the bottom of the first, and then advanced to third on a single from sophomore Ryan Brown.
Bozeman miscues on well-hit balls brought both runners home, as well as designated runner eighth grader Ashton Carey, and the Lady Seahawks had a 3-0 lead.
Ham gave up a single to eighth grader Callie Le in the top of the second, but by fanning two other batters, and get a dribbler down the first base line that was easily fielded by O’Neal, that inning ended without any damage.
Brown got on in the bottom of the second when the Bozeman fielder’s throw to first hit her foot as she neared first, which she rounded and advanced to second as the ball shot out into right field. A double by Millender brought Brown home, and the Lady Seahawks led 4-0.
In the bottom of the third, Ham lofted the ball deep to the fence for a double, and later advanced to third and Addyson Mallon, who had singled, to second. The Bozeman pitcher dropped sixth grader Shasta Butler’s bunt attempt, and the bases were loaded.
The infield fly rule was invoked when sophomore Raegan Dempsey lofted a popup to second base, and then junior Taylor Mallon hit the ball deep to short, whose error scored both Ham and Mallon. A base hit by Brown, who went a total of 3 for 3 at the plate with one RBI, drove in Butler and the Lady Seahawks led 7-0.
In the top of the fifth, Ham struck out the side, keeping the Lady Bucks scoreless, and then in the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Seahawks scored for the ninth and final time.
Brown ground straight up the middle to get on first, and then freshman catch Lexi Webb cracked a double to deep center field, and O’Neal a single to right, to drive in two more runs.