Lady Toppers rally for the win
Houston girls come from behind to sweep series
By Lisa Voyles
HOUSTON – The Houston Lady Toppers faced a strong Amory team in their first round of playoffs, but pulled off the win to advance to round two this week.
In Game One, the Lady Panthers drew first blood, putting a run on the board in the first inning, but the Houston girls posted three in the top of the fourth and added one more in th etop of the fifth for the lead. They allowed the Lady Pantehrs one more run in the bottom of the seventh before they closed the door for the 4-2 win.
Game two proved just as close and exciting if not more so.
The Lady Panthers had a 4-0 lead going into the fifth when the Lady Toppers got their rally going, but when they did it worked well enough to put four runs on the board and tie the game.
The 4-all tie sparked off the momentum changing fifth inning as the Lady Toppers defense locked down on the Lady Panthers. Madeline Burdine made a running catch on Bailey Boyd’s shot to short center field for the first out of the inning and Avery Springer, in relief, struck out Aynslee Willis for the second one. Chelsea Gates made the stop at short to hold Josie Booth to a single and Springer struck out Carley Westbrook to retire the side.
But the Lady Toppers had trouble plating a run in the bottom of the frame. Gates got a single and Mary Kansas Sullivan moved her to second on a sac bunt, but she was stranded there forcing the extra inning.
Westbrook started on second and advanced to third on a sac bunt by Erin Griffth, but Springer struck out Shelby Thornton and made a stop on the mound and flipped the ball to Audi Dendy on first to hold off the Lady Panthers.
Springer started on second in the bottom of the inning and Dendy reached on a bunt that sent Springer on to third. Tristen Graves came in to run for Dendy and stole second and Talaja Echoles reached, loading the bases.
Yasmeen Cooper’s shot to short caught Springer at home for the first out of the inning but left the bases loaded and Burdine’s sac fly sent Graves across the plate for the 5-4 win.
The Lady Toppers will face XXXXXX this week in the second round of playoffs and Coach Keith Jernigan said the team will be hard at work to prepare.
“We’re going to work a lot on hitting this week,” Jernigan said. “We’ve got to get our bats going. We had seven hits against Amory (in the second game) but didn’t put anything together until the fifth inning. We need our hitting to be consistent.”
Jernigan complimented the defense for staying on task until the end and getting the job done.
“Avery did a good job closing and finishing up,” Jernigan said. “Our defense is consistently strong. These kids know what they’re doing and they’re normally pretty good at making the big plays and overcoming errors.”
But Jernigan and the Lady Toppers don’t want to make errors against the Lady Vikings of North Pontotoc.
“We had a few errors against Amory and we’re going to work on eliminating them,” Jernigan said. “It’s mostly focusing and being consistent. North is a good hitting team we we’ll have to play them a solid defense.”