SUMRALL – Sumrall had every opportunity to punch to seal a series win over North Pike on Saturday night. But after leaving nine runners on base, each of those opportunities was squandered as the Lady Bobcats fell 3-0 to the Lady Jaguars and forced a series deciding Game 3 for the Class 4A South State Championship.
“We left the bases loaded for two innings,” Sumrall coach Dodie Robertson said. “We just can’t strand runners like that and not generate a run. We tried to get the bunt down a couple of times, and just little things like that make the difference. We weren’t swinging at the best pitches all the time. We swung at ball four one time. It’s just a little stuff that we know better.”
North Pike got on the board in the second inning after the Lady Jaguars came up with straight singles off Sumrall’s starting pitcher Brandi Bond. Bond gave up an RBI single to give North Pike a 1-0 lead before Avery Smith entered the game and got out of the inning.
Sumrall’s first opportunity to score came in the second inning after putting runners at first and second with no outs, but designated player Summer Powers struck out to end the threat. Again in the fourth inning, Sumrall (25-8) loaded the bases with two outs, but Powers flew out.
In the fifth inning, Anna Grace Shows came up with a one-out single, but both Shaylee Ingram and Ella Robertson struck out to kill another opportunity.
However, the biggest missed chance to score came in the bottom of the sixth inning. North Pike’s pitcher Ann Elise Duncan walked the bases loaded with two outs, but Londyn Robertson grounded out to the right-hander to end the inning.
North Pike then added insurance runs in the seventh inning as the Lady Jaguars put runners at first and third with one out, with a fielder’s choice allowing a run to score. Smith then gave up a walk, which led to her being pulled with Ashlyn Burkhalter entering the game. In 5.1 innings, Smith struck out four batters and allowed two runs off three hits.
Burkhalter to fair much better as Sumrall’s defense again had another mental error that allowed another to score to push the lead to 3-0.
“We ran into a little bit of pitching issues,” Robertson said. “Avery just wasn’t throwing strikes there for a little bit.
“We were trying to get that run and were playing tight to go to (home). They were just little bloopers, slow rollers and we couldn’t get to them fast enough to get the runner out. Once we realized that we probably should have got them out because we got ourselves in a little bind there.”
Despite the loss, Robertson says she is confident in her team bouncing back with Game 3 being played on the road at North Pike with first pitch set for 6 p.m.
“Honestly, we have been really good on the road this year,” Robertson said. “Our batting average on the road is over .400. That’s what I told the team. I’m very confident on the road. I’m not scared about being at (home). This whole series of playoffs, we have been excellent. I like our chances. It’s going to be a good game because (North Pike) is a good team.”