By Tim Chambers
Saturday was prom night for some of the Lady Bulldogs, yet they weren’t about to get all beautified for the big shindig without playing a game of softball.
Their efforts were rewarded with a 2-0 win over Cloudland in the first round of the District 1-A softball tournament. The victory puts them into the double-elimination round on Monday at Unaka, where they’ll take on University High at 5 p.m.
The Lady Highlanders saw their season end at 9-13.
Hampton coach Bill Doss was all smiles after the contest. He felt like his battery was the big difference in the game.
“Molly Crabtree and Danielle Guinn were the difference pitching and catching,” said Doss. “Danny called the pitches and did a great job. Molly was able to get the big outs when we needed them, but we had some young kids step up and get big hits when we had to have them, too.”
Despite the game being scoreless for five innings, both teams had plenty of chances to put runs on the board.
The Lady Highlanders got a leadoff double from Hope Baker in the first inning, but failed to move her over on a bunt attempt.
Haley Sloan and Sadie Fletcher led off the second inning with singles, yet the ’Dogs couldn’t muster a run.
Cloudland’s Hunter McKinney was able to escape a major jam in the fifth inning after Hampton had loaded the bases. Fletcher’s double and Kayla Stonman’s single singled eventually placed runners at second and third.
Cloudland elected to walk Danille Guinn to load the bases. McKinney then made a diving catch with two outs to keep the contest scoreless.
The Highlanders stranded nine runners in the game. They left the bases loaded in the fourth inning and failed to score with them at second and third in the fifth.
Hampton finally broke the ice with a pair of runs in the sixth. Carmen Calderon and Crabtree collected back-to-back singles. Sloan’s fielder’s choice plus an infield single from Kayla Stoneman would put the Lady Bulldogs in front 2-0.
The Lady Highlanders got a double from Martina Presnell in the sixth and a single by Kendall Mull in the seventh, but failed to dent the scoreboard.
Crabtree allowed six hits and struck out four in her complete-game performance. McKinney gave up seven hits and struck out seven while taking the loss.
“My defense played excellent behind me,” said Crabtree. “Danille Guinn and I have good chemistry and work well together. She did a great job of calling the pitchers and keeping everyone up. I also want to commend the Cloudland seniors and softball team for having an outstanding season. I’m just happy that today was our day.”
Fletcher and Stoneman had two hits each for Hampton.
Leading Cloudland at the plate was Baker, Presnell and Mull with two hits apiece, the only players to record one in the game.
Highlander head coach Kenneth Chambers pretty much summed up the game.
“Defensively we played about as good as we can play and McKinney pitched outstanding,” said Chambers. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the key hit when we had to.”
Hampton 000 002 0 — 2 7 2
Cloudland 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Crabtree and Guinn. McKinney and Baker. W—Crabtree. L—McKinney.