Lady Eagles Fall, 3-1 in 12 Innings In Regional Finale
The defending Class AA Champion Point Pleasant Lady Black Knights scored two unearned runs in the top of the 12th to defeat the Magnolia Lady Blue Eagles, 3-1 in the Region I championship at Point Pleasant May 23.
All fans were greeted with gracious hospitality from the Point Pleasant Coaches Association that provided a cookout with hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pop, and water throughout the contest, free of charge.
Magnolia won the toss and elected to be the home team and sent freshman Tori Tharp to the mound to go against the Lady Black Knights’ senior all-stater Tessa Wyant.
Tharp gave up a single to start the top of the first and struck out the second batter with a high heater for the game’s first out. After a pop out, the Black Knights’ leadoff batter stole second and third, but she would be stranded by Tharp’s recently-introduced change-up that sat the next batter down. Point’s next batter popped out to Lady Eagle Lynn Miller in right for the third out.
Bree Carr and Abby Horner each struck out to open the bottom of the first and Corinne Murdock drilled a grounder to first base for the final out of the frame.
After a harmless pop out to Blue Eagle catcher Marissa Bosley, Tharp used a wicked change-up to retire the next batter on a called strike. Point Pleasant tried to bunt, but the quickness of senior first baseman Corinne Murdock and her toss to AlexaJo Hanna at second ended the top of the Lady Knights’ second without any batter reaching base.
Brittany Batton, who opened the bottom of the inning, was rudely hit by a pitch to give Magnolia its first base runner of the game. Bosley executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Batton to second and a wild pitch moved her on to third. Batton scored the game’s first run, and Magnolia’s only one, when the Point’s catcher overthrew the ball to third base.
Miller grounded out to make it two away. Kelsi Heasley then scampered to first base when the Knights’ catcher dropped the strike three ball. Hanna was next up, but struck out to end the inning with Magnolia on top 1-0.
Point Pleasant’s first batter beat out a bunt for a single to start the third and moved into scoring position on a pass ball strike out by Magnolia. However, Tharp buckled down on the mound to sit down the next two Point batters.
In the bottom of the third, Dallas Mullett and Carr each grounded out, but Horner beat out a dropped third strike. Murdock followed with what appeared to be a single to right field, but was nailed at first for the third out.
After a leadoff walk and a stolen base, Tharp retired the next two Knight batters and induced a pop out to end the top of the fourth.
Two long fly outs by Batton and Bosley and a called third strike on Miller ended the fourth frame.
Tharp would strike out the side in the fifth, two of which were caught looking on her change up.
After a strike out and a ground out, Mullett reached first base when she was hit by a pitch. But, the Black’s pitcher struck out Carr swinging to end the fifth.
Up to this point of the game, Tharp was cruising with a two-hitter, one of which was an infield single, while striking out eight batters. After a ground out to Carr, Point reached first on its third single of the night. After another ground out to Carr, the Knights singled to score on a close call at home. Tharp struck out her ninth batter on a called third strike, but the damage was done and Point knotted the game at 1-1.
Magnolia started the bottom of the sixth with a fly out, but Murdock blasted a fast ball to the deepest part of the field for a stand up double. Bosley was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with only one out. Murdock was erased on a close force out at third, but Bosley stole second to put the go-ahead runner in scoring position. However, Miller followed in the box and struck out.
In the top of the seventh, it looked like the Lady Knights would put the Eagles away when their first two batters reached via a walk. But, a pop out to Bosley at home, a grounder to first and a fly out to Heasley ended the threat.
Hanna and Mullett walked in the seventh, but three strike outs had the game going into extra innings on a 1-1 tie.
Tharp sat down two Point Pleasant batters in the eighth and erased one on a come-backer for a one-two-three inning. The Eagles had their chances in the eighth after solid singles by Batton and Bosley, but two grounders and a fly out ended the inning.
Tharp silenced two of the next three batters in the ninth, but the Eagles walked and got caught stealing to put the game into the bottom of the 10th inning. Magnolia appeared to have something started when Horner doubled. But, she was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice and Batton was then tagged on a run down between first and second base.
The frame became contentious when MHS Head Coach Mark Batton was ejected for stepping onto the playing field on a live ball.
Although the momentum was clearly with the Blacks, Tharp kept the game knotted until the 12th. With two outs and a runner at second, Heasley misjudged a routine fly ball and Point Pleasant scored two to gain the nod.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls to go out there and battle like that. We just ended up a little short.” said Batton. “I’m just proud of all of them. We had a great season,”
Tharp went the distance, walking five and fanning 17. She scattered six hits with two coming via infield singles.
Magnolia was led by doubles from Murdock and Horner, while Batton and Bosley each singled to lead the 17-5 Eagles.