Pitching duo leads Lady Tornadoes over Sumrall

By STAN CALDWELL,

PURVIS – David Entrekin thinks he has two aces on his Purvis softball team, and he’s not afraid to roll the dice with either of them.

The Lady Tornadoes got solid efforts from both starter Gracey Baucom and Sarah Ballard, as Purvis squeezed out a 3-2 victory in eight innings over Sumrall Friday night in a Region 7-4A contest at Purvis Softball Field.

Purvis improved to 9-1 overall and 3-0 in the region. Sumrall dropped to 6-6 and 1-3.

Baucom got the Lady Tornadoes through the first six innings, then turned to the left-handed Ballard for the seventh. Ballard pitched around some trouble, but got the job done for the win in the circle.

“Sumrall is always a big rivalry game, and they’ve always got a solid team over there,” said Entrekin. “We knew these games are always intense and competitive, and our girls look forward to them.”

Entrekin said he wanted to give the Lady Bobcats something different after Baucom worked into her third time through the Sumrall batting order.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” said Entrekin. “They both work well together, and they both have different styles.

“Gracey was throwing really great. But I thought they got a couple of good looks at her, and like I’ve said, we have two aces and we feel confident about either one in any situation.”

Baucom surrendered an unearned run in the top of the third inning, but otherwise was lights out for Purvis. She allowed three hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter in her six innings of work.

Sumrall got the first run of the game in the third, after Purvis had a base runner thrown out at the plate on a single to right field in the bottom of the second.

Landyn Robertson reached second base on an error to lead off the third and was sacrificed to third. With two out, Lilly Robertson hit a single to right field to drive in the run.

Purvis had base runners in the first six innings, but didn’t score until the bottom of the fifth, when Elise Jackson smacked a triple to the wall in left-centerfield with two out.

Lily Curtis hit a little dribbler toward the circle that Sumrall’s Brianna McCray couldn’t get immediately get a handle on, and Curtis beat the throw to first, allowing the tying run to score.

That was one of the few mistakes McCray made, as she gave Sumrall eight tough innings in the loss.

“She’s pitched much better this year than she has in the past,” said Sumrall coach Dodie Robertson. “We’re very young, and she is too, even though she’s a junior. But she battled hard today, and I think this was the best game she’s had all year.”

McCray got out of a jam in the sixth, getting a strikeout to end the inning after the Lady Tornadoes got a runner to third with two out.

Ballard pitched around trouble in both of her innings, but her riseball found the mark when she needed it.

Sumrall opened the top of the seventh with a leadoff walk and an infield single. But a popped-up bunt resulted in a double play at first base, and Ballard got a strikeout to end the inning.

“That was my riseball, and that’s my best pitch,” said Ballard. “If we know a batter is going to bunt, it makes them pull up on it to try to hit it. That really fired my up, and when that riseball is working, nobody can hit it.”

McCray retired Purvis in order in the bottom of the seventh, and under the international tiebreaker, Sumrall started the eighth with a runner at second base.

A groundout in front of home plate moved the runner to third, and a wild pitch scored the run. The Lady Bobcats had a chance to add more runs to their lead, loading the bases with a walk, a single and a hit batter.

But Ballard induced a groundout to leave the bases loaded, and Purvis took its turn with Jackson on second to open the bottom of the eighth. Curtis moved Jackson over to third with a single, and a wild pitch scored the run and allowed Curtis to get to third base.

Sumrall had no choice but to put the next two batters on intentionally to load the bases and put the force in play, but Kaleigh Carr foiled that strategy by smoking a long single into the right-centerfield gap to drive in the game-winner.

“I was looking for a fastball right down the middle,” said Carr. “But she put it low and outside, and that was just as good. It’s big for us, and we had to play as a team today.”

Purvis will travel to Poplarville for an important region game next Thursday, while Sumrall is right back in action Saturday at home against South Jones.q

“I was proud of our effort, and the fact that we never quit,” said Robertson. “But we didn’t execute in situations where we needed to tonight, and that was the ball game.

Prep Softball Linescore

Friday at Purvis Softball Field

Purvis 3, Sumrall 2 (8 innings)

Sum.    001      000      01        –          2          5          1

Purvis  000      010      02        –          3          7          1

SUMRALL (6-6, 1-3 in 7-4A): Lilly Robertson 2 1B; Faith Abram 2B, 2 1B. LP – Brianna McCray.

PURVIS (9-1, 3-0 in 7-4A): Sarah Ballard 1B; Elise Jackson 3B; Lily Curtis 1B, Lillie Hale 1B; Kaleigh Carr 1B; Grace Cluff 2 1B. WP – Sarah Ballard. Also pitching – Gracey Baucom (starter).

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