Lady Flashes fall short|Prep softball playoffs
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The seventh inning moves didn’t work out for St. Aloysius and Bogue Chitto was able to take advantage in the eighth, scoring three times to win the deciding game of a Class 1A second-round playoff series 7-5 at Bazinsky Park.
Bogue Chitto (24-5) advances to a third round series against Sebastapol Saturday. The loss ends St. Al’s season at 15-8 and ends the career of standout pitcher Sarah Franco, the 2008 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, along with three other veteran players Catelyn Park, Katie Koestler and Hannah Barrett.
“We had a good season and I’m going to miss it,” Franco said, holding back tears. “I knew it would be a close game with them, it always is. They got the hits and bunts they needed in the last inning.”
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St. Al, however, had victory standing on third base in the bottom of the seventh after Haley Heggins led off by scorching a hit into the right field corner. The relay throw was dribbled into the infield, which may have been a opening for Heggins to score, but she was held at third base. With no outs, and Heggins on third, Bogue Chitto was still in deep trouble.
“Oh yeah, that was a big hit. That (Heggins) was the elimination run right there,” Bogue Chitto coach Scott Leggett said. “But, we’ve been in that situation before three years ago. We got out of that one and won the game in 10 innings.”
Instead of loading the bases to create a force-out at any base, Leggett went ahead and had pitcher Kelli Howard pitch to Catelyn Park. St. Al decided to try and squeeze Heggins in on a bunt. Park laid it down the first base side and Heggins headed home.
“We weren’t going to make a play at first base,” Leggett said.
Lady Bobcat first baseman Blaine Myers fielded the bunt and threw home to catcher Darcy Miller, who had the plate blocked. She made the tag out and St. Al’s best chance to win the game was gone.
Next up was Franco, who sent a fly ball into center that was deep enough to score a runner, had one still been on third. Instead it was the second out and Park was still on first. Park, though, would get to second after a two-out hit by Mallory McGuffie.
That brought up Sara Howington, who in two previous at-bats, had made big plays. She had drawn a bases-loaded walk in the third to score a run and tie the game at 2. In the fifth, she singled in Park with a two-out single to break a 2-2 game. This time, though, Lady Bobcat pitcher Kelli Howard induced a soft comebacker to the mound to get the inning’s third out.
“It was so close for us,” Franco said of the St. Al seventh.
With the tiebreaker rule in place, and new life, Bogue Chitto took full advantage. Miller, the last out in the top of the seventh, was placed on second and she then stole third. Josie Porter, who had doubled and tripled in Miller in the first and sixth innings, got her in again, but this time with a bunt. Myers also bunted and the Lady Flashes booted it, allowing Porter to go third.
A third bunt left Franco, no option but to go to first but the close play seemed to freeze the Lady Flashes’ infielders. Porter came in to make it 6-4. Toy Smith then singled to right to complete the three-run rally and give Bogue Chitto a 7-4 lead.
St. Al got a run back when Koestler doubled in Howington, who had been placed on a second. But a pop up to catcher resulted in a double play as Miller was able to throw back to second to catch a straying pinch-runner. Howard then ended the game on a grounder to second.
Franco, who took a hard shot off her ankle in the fifth inning, was gallant in defeat. She struck out 14 with no walks. She did give up nine hits, three each to Miller and Porter.
Park ended her career with two hits and three runs scored. Heggins had a triple while Franco and Koestler each had a double.
Contact Jeff Byrd at email@example.com