By Tim Chambers
Lost opportunities in a close softball game can sometimes not be regained. Thus was the case for Cloudland on Monday afternoon versus North Greene.
The Lady Highlanders watched what could have been their second conference win slip slide away in a 5-3, eight-inning loss to the Huskies.
The Highlanders left 10 runners on base that proved costly, but it was the final two frames that did them in. Coach Kenneth Chambers touched on the events.
“We just left too many runners on base and made mistakes at the end that cost us,” said Chambers. “I thought defensively we played great until that last inning. We just couldn’t get that key hit when we had to.”
The ’Lady Landers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a double by Summer Hughes, scoring Hope Baker, who had walked.
North Greene scored three times in the third to take a 3-1 advantage. Corinne Guelli led off with a double, then moved to third on a bunt single by Katie O’Neal. Mikaela Pridmore singled to tie the contest at 1-1.
The key blow was a two-run double from Arain Daughtry, putting the Huskies in front. However, the 3-1 lead was shortlived.
Cloudland tied the game in the bottom half by pushing a pair of runs across.
Baker singled and Kelly King walked to get things started. Dakota Jarrett’s two-run single tied the game at 3-3. It might have been more, but the Highlanders got a pair of runners thrown out from the outfield.
Neither team would muster a run over the next four frames, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have their chances.
The Lady Huskies left a pair of runners on during the fourth and seventh frames. Cloudland did likewise in fifth inning, but the seventh one is where the ’Landers let it slip through their fingers
Baker and King drew one out walks then pulled off a successful double steal, putting runners as second and third.
Hughes hit what appeared to be a ball deep enough to score the runner until the wind got hold of it and started pushing it back toward the infield. The catch was made in short center by O’Neal, who threw a strike to Dariann Bailey to nail Baker trying to nab home.
“I maybe should have held her, but I thought it was deep enough,” said Chambers. “We try to be aggressive. The girl made a great throw for them.”
It was a pair of costly miscues in the eighth inning that did Cloudland in.
North Greene scored two unearned runs on balls hit that should have been outs. Now they trailed by two — down to their final three outs.
The Highlanders didn’t go down without a fight. Savannah Whitehead and Martina Presnell delivered one-out singles that bought the winning run to the plate, but North Greene pitcher Megan Taylor was able to get a fly ball out and a strikeout to end the game.
McKinney pitched one heck of a game for the Highlanders, scattering 10 hits over eight innings. Only two North Greene runs were earned.
Taylor allowed six hits in getting the win. She struck out seven in her complete game effort.
Baker and King were the perfect tablesetters for the Highlanders. They each went 1-for-2 and were on base a combined total of seven times. Presnell, Whitehead, Jarrett and Hughes had one hit apiece.
Dariann Bailey, Taylor and O’Neal had two hits apiece for the Lady Huskies, but it was the play of first baseman Talley Bailey that saved them. Twice she scooped up bad throws in the dirt — the final time with two on and one out in the eighth inning that kept Cloudland from possibly scoring the winning run.
It won’t get any easier for the Highlanders.
North Greene 003 000 02 — 5 10 2
Cloudland 102 000 00 — 3 6 4
Taylor and D. Bailey. McKinney and Baker. W—Taylor, LP—McKinney.