By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
It is a shame when a competitive match ends on a poor call by the umpire, but that is exactly what happened between Hoke Bluff and eighth-ranked Susan Moore during the Class 3A, Area 10 varsity girls softball tournament at Susan Moore on May 1.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh inning, Hokes Bluff loaded the bases with one out and rounded the top of its lineup.
Savannah Ward slapped a groundball toward the second baseman, and all Eagle runners were on the move.
Hokes Bluff’s Chelsea Machleit stepped out of the baseline while advancing toward second base. The second baseman gave chase to Machleit, which bought enough time for Mattie Jenkins to score from third base and Ward to reach first base with an infield single.
Machleit was called out for stepping out of the base path, bringing the situation to two outs, runners on the corners, and a tie game.
But that was not the ruling.
The field umpire ruled that Machleit retreated toward first base, despite running full-speed toward second base and jumping out of the base path to avoid the tag. Further, the umpire ruled that Machleit was not allowed to retreat to first base during the play. The umpire called Ward out at first base, despite beating the late throw to first because the second baseman spent those valuable seconds chasing Malcheit.
What is most strange about the play is that both teams were set for the next play when the ruling finally came that ended the game in the Bulldogs’ favor, 1-0.
Susan Moore scored the game’s run in the bottom of the second inning.
Chelsea Ogles led the inning with a single to centerfield and moved to second base when Lindsey Cuzzort walked. A sacrifice by Whitney Sanders scored Ogles, giving the Lady Bulldogs the lead, 1-0.
Hokes Bluff third baseman Hannah Evans’ defensive play saved the Eagles more runs the same inning. With Cuzzort on third base, Indya Foster drilled a shot down the line. Evans snatched the line drive and tagged Cuzzort for the final out of the inning.
Susan Moore threatened again in the fourth inning but was unable to produce any runs.
Ogles held the Hokes Bluff offense in check for five innings, scattering three hits.
In the sixth inning, Machleit, Carlie Shields and Summer Wilson each singled to load the bases with one out. Ogles’ overpowered the final two Eagles to end the threat.
Wilson and Lark Cole paced Hokes Bluff, each slapping a pair of hits. Wilson had one double. Machleit batted 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
Courtney Pierce pitched for Hokes Bluff, allowing the potent Bulldog offense seven hits over six innings, while earning a pair of strikeouts.
Susan Moore will face Glencoe at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (May 3). Hokes Bluff will face the winner of the Ashville-J.B. Pennington game at 4:30 p.m. the same day.