By Tim Chambers
Two out of three ain’t bad, according to “Meatloaf” — yet one of two was sufficient for the Lady Highlanders at Hampton on Thursday.
Cloudland claimed homefield advantage for the opening round of the District 1-A softball tournament by shutting out the Lady Bulldogs 6-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. Hampton won the first contest 5-4.
It was quite a turnaround from the first contest, where Cloudland squandered away a couple of golden opportunities that could have won the game. The Lady Highlanders went with a speedier lineup in the second contest, and it paid off immensely.
“We changed some things up because we didn’t come ready to play in the first game,” said Cloudland coach Kenneth Chambers. “We might have thought we were ready but we wasn’t. We made too many mental errors — didn’t make some routine plays in the field and that’s not us. They got the key hits and we didn’t.”
The Lady Highlanders took a 2-0 lead in the second inning and never looked back.
Freshman Martina Presnell singled, stole second and third, then scored on a wild pitch to record the first run. Another wild pitch allowed Dakota Jarrett to race home after Rachel Sparks had singled her to third.
It didn’t get any better for Hampton in the following frame. Cloudland struck for four runs to go up 6-0 that pretty much put the game away.
Hope Baker started it off with a single. Hunter McKinney had a run-scoring base hit with the bases loaded. The biggest one was a two-run double off the bat of Presnell that scored Kelly King and Summer Hughes.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable at the plate than I was at the first of the year,” said Presnell. “I’m hitting it a lot better. We played with our heads down and no emotion in the first game, but we came back and played like we should have in the second one.”
Hampton threatened in the final inning thanks to three consecutive base hits by Maggie Burchett, Kayla Stoneman and Haley Trusler — but McKinney retired the next two batters in order to preserve her shutout.
The junior righty had allowed only one hit up to that point. She finished the game with four-hitter and didn’t walk a batter.
She was aided by a couple of defensive gems from freshman second baseman Kendall Mull. Her backhanded grab saved one run in the second inning, then she prevented another from crossing by robbing Katie Burchett of a base hit in the third.
“We didn’t come out ready to play in the first game for some reason,” said Mull. “In the second game we felt like we were the better team but had to prove it. We weren’t thinking about getting homefield advantage as much as we were just beating them.”
Presnell led the Lady Highlanders going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Baker, Sparks and McKinney went 1-for-2 apiece.
Danielle Guinn had a double for Hampton — the lone hit aside from the three consecutive ones in the fifth.
“We’re pretty good with the lineup we put on the field in the second game,” added Chambers. “We made them make plays in this one by putting the ball in play. They did that to us in the first game. I’m proud of the way the kids bounced back.”
It took two extra innings to decide this affair, with the international rule taking place in the last frame.
Molly Crabtree’s walk-off double drove in Katie Burchett, who had singled with the winning run.
“When we start off hitting good, our kids seem to get motivated and play well,” said Hampton head coach Bill Doss. “We played strong in the first game, but we waited to late in the second one to get going.”
Crabtree’s sacrifice fly and a RBI single by Haley Sloan helped Hampton to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
They extended it at 3-0 in the third, thanks to Kayla Stonman’s double and a run-scoring single by Danielle Guinn.
Cloudland tied the game in the third.
Kendall Mull singled then scored on a double by Hope Baker. She and Kelly King would later cross home with the help of Hunter McKinney’s two-run single.
The Lady Highlanders had a chance to win it in the fifth, but got greedy.
Kelly King’s triple scored Baker with the tying run, yet she was thrown out trying to take home on an errant throw with nobody out. Crabtree retired the next two batters with ease.
She came on in the fourth inning to earn the win allowing one run in three innings.
Guinn swung the big stick for Hampton, going 3-for-4. Sloan was 2-for-3, and Carmen Calderon, Katie Burchett, Crabtree, Magie Burchett, Stoneman and Hale Trusler added one hit apiece.
Mull led the Highlanders, going 2-for-3. Presnell was 1-for-2.
The two teams will play again on Saturday to see who moves on. Chambers said they will decide on the time today.
Cloudland 003 010 00 — 4 8 1
Hampton 211 000 01 — 5 10 1
McKinney and Baker. Guinn, Crabtree (4) and Burchett. W—Guinn. L—McKinney.
Hampton 000 00 — 0 4 3
Cloudland 024 0x — 6 5 1
Guinn, Crabtree (3) and Burchett. McKinney and Baker. W—McKinney. L— Guinn.