Messenger file photo by Alex Chaney
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Hokes Bluff High softball team’s season fell a game short of the state tournament last Wednesday (May 11).
A few hours after keeping their season alive with a win over Childersburg in the playback bracket of the Class 3A East Regional, the Lady Eagles exited the tournament with a 5-3 loss to Piedmont at the Albertville Sports Complex.
Trailing by one run in the bottom of the fourth, Hokes Bluff took a 2-1 lead courtesy of Ava Dodd’s RBI double and Hayden’s Wolfe’s run-scoring base hit. Bailee’s inside-the-park home run in the third provided the Lady Eagles with a 1-0 advantage.
That turned out to be the high-water mark for the Lady Eagles, as Piedmont starter E. Farmer limited Hokes Bluff to two hits and no runs the rest of the way, striking out the side in the seventh.
The Lady Bulldogs made Farmer the winning pitcher with one run in the sixth and two more in the top of the seventh.
The final score ruined a solid pitching effort from Kileigh Blackwell, who in seven innings allowed five hits and one walk while striking out six. All five of Piedmont’s runs were unearned.
At the plate for the Lady Eagles, Dodd and Bailee Latronico each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Blackwell, Rosie Garrett, Makenna Bennich and Gracie Blair each had a hit.
In Hokes Bluff’s 9-1 victory over Childersburg earlier on Wednesday, the Lady Eagles used 12 hits and a standout pitching effort from Blackwell to earn the win. Blackwell had the Lady Tigers back on their heels from the start, allowing only two runs and one walk while fanning six in five and two-third innings. Reliever Payton Ward shut down the Childersburg offense over the final one and one-innings to secure the victory.
Latronico’s steal of home in the bottom of the first gave Hokes Bluff the lead for good, while RBI doubles by her and Abby Payne helped pushed the lead to 5-0 in the second.
Garrett belted a two-run triple in the following inning for a 7-1 advantage and Kadyn Howell singled in Kayla Traylor in the fourth for a seven-run lead. Wolfe’s RBI base hit in the sixth made it 9-1.
At the plate, Howell went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored; Latronico went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored; Wolfe went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored; Garrett had a hit, two RBI and a run scored; Blackwell had a hit and two RBI; Blair had a hit and two runs scored; and Payne had a hit, an RBI and two runs scored.
Hokes Bluff went 1-1 during the opening day tournament on Tuesday, May 10.
After getting off to a good start with a 13-2 victory over Saks, the Lady Eagles fell to Plainview, 10-0, later in the day.
With their opening game against Saks scoreless through the first four innings, the Lady Eagles pushed across five runs in the fifth inning and another eight in the sixth.
Blackwell twirled a three-hitter, striking out 13 while not issuing a walk. Sixty-five of her 96 pitches went for strikes. She tossed a perfect game over the first four innings, retiring the first nine batters she faced while fanning six.
But Saks starter Raina Zackery kept the Hokes Bluff offense at bay in the early going. Although she allowed six baserunners over the initial four innings, none crossed home plate. That lack of offense cost the Lady Eagles when Saks went ahead 2-0 in the top of the fifth on Arielle Sillman’s two-run double.
The Lady Eagles did not trail for long. Halle Davenport and Latronico started off the bottom of the inning with consecutive base hits, with Payne drawing a walk to load the bases. RBI singles from Bennich and Blackwell tied the game, and Hokes Bluff took the lead for good when Bennich scored on an RBI groundout. Ava Dodd’s two-RBI double them provided the Lady Eagles with a 5-2 advantage.
The Lady Wildcats threatened on the top of the sixth with runners on second and third with two outs, but Blackwell struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Hokes Bluff put the game away in the bottom of the sixth. Base hits from Davenport and Latronico and a pair of Saks fielding errors led to two runs. Bennich then singled in Garrett, and three straight walks pushed the lead to 10-2. Dodd scored off a fielder’s choice and Wolfe came home on Garrett’s RBI flyout to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
At the plate for Hokes Bluff, Bennich went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored; Latronico went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored; Davenport went 2-for-4 with two runs scored; Dodd had a double with three RBI and a run scored; and Garrett and Blackwell each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
Blackwell had a decent five-inning outing against Plainview in scattering seven hits, one earned run and one walk with three strikeouts, but the Lady Eagle offense no answer for Plainview starter Lily Boswell. In six innings, Boswell limited Hokes Bluff to one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Gracie Blair had the Lady Eagles’ lone hit.