Lady Tornadoes drop Game 1 of third-round series

By ANDREW ABADIE,

PURVIS – Simply put, Newton County’s pitcher Shelby Anderson controlled the 4-0 win over Purvis in Game 1 of the third-round series. Anderson threw 14 strikeouts in the complete game shutout, and the Lady Cougars will have two games at their home field to close out the series Saturday.

“We knew coming in that she was a good pitcher,” Purvis coach David Entrekin said. “We couldn’t lay off a lot of pitches on the outside. She was spotting them up really well and had us chasing. I give [Newton County] credit. We knew they were good coming in. We just really didn’t have an answer for the pitching.”

Game 2 of the series is set for 2 p.m. Saturday in Decatur. If Purvis wins, Game 3 will follow. Winner of this series will advance to the 4A South State Championship.

Anderson commanded and peppered the outside corner throughout the night, which was the main reason for her success in the circle.  

“It’s easier said than done [adjusting to Anderson’s pitching],” Entrekin said. “You have to almost expect the outside pitch and lay off the pitch that is off the plate.”

On the opposite side of the circle, Purvis’ pitcher Sarah Ballard had tough moments. Although Ballard held Newton County to just two hits, both hits scored runs. She also had walked four batters and hit another.

Ballard walked two batters in the first inning and Newton County capitalized as the Cougars knocked in its first two runs on a two-out, two-run double. Another run was scored in the third inning with a Purvis error set up a run scored off a fielder’s choice.  The final run for Newton County came off another RBI double in the fourth inning, which was set up by a walked batter.

“I thought Sarah threw a good game tonight,” Entrekin said. “I thought overall we played pretty good defense. We just got to adjust at the plate. We have got to hit good pitches. That is the key. That has to be our goal, and to cut down on the strikeouts, that’s for sure.”

Purvis had a pair of opportunities and despite the strikeouts, it out-hit Newton County 3-2. In the third inning, Purvis stranded Elise Jackson who led the inning off with a triple.

“That was a little disheartening,” Entrekin said. “We couldn’t get her in. Runner on third with no outs kind of took a little steam out. Like I said, really good pitcher, we just had no answer for her.”

The Lady Tornados had another chance for runs in the sixth inning, as leadoff hitter Hannah Lower opened the inning with a single and Ballard reached base with a two-out single, but both were stranded.

Entrekin said the message for his team was to simply not quit.

“The message was to keep fighting like we have all year,” he said. “We’ve had probably the best season that Purvis high fast pitch softball has ever had and we're here for a reason. Nobody can put their head down, everybody competing, everybody battling, we just have to make adjustments.”