By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
MONTGOMERY — Winfield was only able to muster five hits off Good Hope's Cara Goodwin on Saturday morning — but three of them were big ones.
Micaela Beck, Samantha Riley and Lexi Hollingsworth all blasted solo home runs for the No. 4 Pirates, who went on to add another run and hold off multiple Raider rallies for a 4-1 victory.
The consolation-bracket loss ended the Red and White's Class 3A State Tournament record at 1-2 and their season mark at 42-10.
One game removed from launching a pair of grand slams in a 12-0 rout of Montgomery Catholic, Beck stayed blistering hot with her bat. Winfield's cleanup slugger bombed a shot to straightaway center to lead off the second inning and pitched in an RBI single in the sixth.
Riley and Hollingsworth's homers came in the fourth and fifth frames.
“Hitting is contagious, and it sticks with you for several days,” Good Hope coach Wayne Harris said of the Pirates carrying their offensive outburst from Friday night into Saturday morning. “There was no doubt, they hit three lasers. You take those three lasers out of the game, and it's a different ballgame, but that's softball.”
The only way Kayla Tillman, who went 2 for 3 in her final game as a Raider, could explain the loss was fate.
“We just weren't meant to win I don't think,” she said. “Because I mean boom, boom, boom, you can't do anything about that.”
After shutting down Good Hope in a 14-inning marathon exactly one week earlier, sophomore sensation Madi Moore wasn't nearly as invincible in the rematch. Even still, the lefty managed to work out of multiple jams and strike out eight to earn the win.
The Raiders appeared poised to produce a few runs after leading off the fourth (Tillman), fifth (Darcie Wilson) and sixth (Tillman) innings with singles. Tillman was stranded on second in the first instance, however, and Wilson and Savannah Fendley were left on second and third the next before Alannah Henke brought Tillman in on a fielder's choice groundout in the sixth.
“We had opportunities to score, and we managed to get one run,” Harris said. “We just couldn't get the rest of the runs we needed to stay in the ballgame.”
Fendley contributed a bunt single, and Goodwin added a hit to go with her nine strikeouts in the pitcher's circle.
Following an early exit at state last year that consisted of zero runs and two quick losses, Good Hope's 2013 showing was much more productive. The Raiders opened the season-ending tournament with a 2-0 shutout of White Plains before dropping consecutive contests to Madison Academy and Winfield.
“Eventually the balls will fall our way and the hits will bring in runs, but fifth place on the second day is better than going home on the first day,” Harris said. “It's an improvement, and that's what you want every year.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.