Alexander Central softball team beats Pioneers
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
It took just two innings for Alexander Central's softball team to pull away from Watauga.
Watauga actually took an early lead against the powerful Cougars, but it was short-lived in an 8-2 loss Tuesday at Watauga's field. Alexander Central, with help from seven walks, scored four runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth.
"It looked like they had control problems," Alexander Central coach Monte Sherrill said. "We've got two quality pitchers that I think will be (Division) I, so we're not going to walk anybody. We're going to maintain control."
Alexander Central's pitching duo of Kiana Millsaps and Bailey Rhoney walked just one Watauga batter. That batter, Kim Robinson, did not score after being walked in the third inning.
In fact, she was thrown out trying to score from first base on a Hope LaPoint double. Robinson went 2-for-3 and a walk.
"She's a quality player," Sherrill said of Robinson. "Riley Pudney and (Taylor) Drummonds -- I'm going to personally miss playing against those three. I take it as a challenge pitching to those three because I know the quality players they are."
Watauga collected six hits, but none from the bottom five batters in its batting order. LaPoint was the biggest threat to Alexander Central by hitting two RBI doubles and going 3-for-3 from the plate.
Watauga took a 1-0 lead when Robinson and LaPoint hit back-to-back doubles in the first inning. LaPoint drove in Drummonds with her second double in the third inning. LaPoint singled in the sixth inning, but was doubled off first base after Millsaps caught a sharp line drive from Michala McCune and threw LaPoint out.
Alexander Central (19-1, 9-1 NWC) clinched at least a tie for the Northwestern Conference championship, its 33rd league title in the Cougars' history. They got off to a slow start against McCune, but broke through for four runs in the third inning thanks to a two-run single from Amanda Sports, an RBI single by Rhoney and a bases-loaded walk issued to Christina Krider.
Kim Robinson struggled with her control in the fourth inning, which Alexander Central cashed in by scoring three runs. Robinson settled down and gave up just one run in the fifth inning and none the rest of the game.
Alexander Central finished with seven hits.
"All of her walks came in the first inning she pitched," Pioneers coach Stephanie Long said. "Once she settled in, she pitched very well."
"Sometimes you get a little lulled to sleep if you get a six-run lead in the late innings," Sherrill said. "I felt that where (Robinson) pumped it up a bit, our hitters probably were not having quality at-bats like we did. It's a process and we want to get a little better each game and hopefully max out in the state finals."
Watauga hosts Happy Valley at 4:30 p.m. today.
Alexander Central beat Watauga 15-0 in a game shortened to three innings because of the mercy rule.
Alexander Central claimed a 6-0 lead in the first inning, and closed out the game with a seven-run rally. Watauga's Carrington Taylor and Rachel Hawkins each had a hit.
Alexander Central 8, Watauga 2
Alexander Central 004 310 0 -- 8 7 1
Watauga 101 000 0 -- 2 6 2
Millsaps, Rhoney (7) and Krider. McCune, Robinson (4) and Winebarger. W--Millsaps, L--McCune. LOB--Alex. Central 8, Watauga 4. 2B--Watauga, LaPoint 2, Robinson. SH--Alex. Central, Rhoney.