St. Al falls before Valentine’s might

Published 12:27 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

St. Aloysius did a good enough job taking away Stringer’s speed game, but could not stop the big bat of Ashley Valentine.

The Stringer sophomore went 3-for-4 with five RBIs as the Lady Red Devils rolled to a 10-4 win over St. Aloysius in Game 1 of a second-round Class 1A playoff series Friday at Bazinsky Park.

The best-of-three series resumes today at 4 p.m. in Stringer. St. Al (10-12) has to win to extend the series to a deciding third game, which would be played at 6 p.m., or see its season end. Stringer (13-6) needs only one more win to advance to the Class 1A quarterfinals.

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Valentine is the main reason why the Lady Flashes find themselves on the brink of elimination. She hit a two-run home run, a two-run double and an RBI single.

“She’s been our best hitter all year,” Stringer coach David Mosley said. “Her on base-percentage is in the .600’s and her slugging percentage is over .700. Normally, we like to get our little girls on and run, but their third baseman did a real good job getting those girls out.”

St. Al third baseman Mallory McGuffee accounted for two putouts and six assists. One of the assists came in the sixth inning, when she fired a relay throw to home to keep Teisha Jones from scoring on a double by Valentine.

Unfortunately for St. Al, there was no defense for Valentine’s hits. The home run went over the fence in left to give Stringer a 2-0 lead. Her single in the fourth inning made it 4-0, and the two-run double in the sixth pushed Stringer’s lead to 9-1.

St. Al coach Gene Rogillio said he figured Valentine was going to produce. The problem was his squad could not solve Stringer pitcher Santanna Davis.

“It wasn’t because she was left-handed, it was because she was that slow,” Rogillio said. It took a while for us to adjust. And then we hit balls right at them.”

Another problem was baserunning. St. Al had three runners called out on the paths. McGuffee was called out for leaving the bag too soon. Julie Mabry was thrown out trying to steal second, even though the ball appeared to be dropped before the tag was made, and Perry Gillis was picked off first.

Down 10-1, St. Al finally got something going in the bottom of the sixth. Gillis led off and was hit by a pitch. Allie Willis singled sharply into center and Mabry reached on a one-out error to load the bases. Madison Heggins brought one run in after becoming the second batter hit by Davis. Haley Heggins followed with a two-run single to score Willis and Mabry to make it 10-4.

Davis bounced back to finish the game with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

Davis held St. Al to just three hits, two walks and two hit batters.

“She threw strikes tonight,” Mosley said. “Her being left-handed tends to throw people off. I know it does us, because we’ve seen only one all season.”