By JEFF CALI
ROFF — Honey bees have been swarming around at Roff sporting events lately.
On Thursday, Roff softball coach Kathy Gregson might have felt like she was in the midst of a hornet’s nest during a tough Class 2A District Tournament field that included foes Stonewall and Wanette.
However, thanks to timely hitting and solid defensive play, the host Lady Tigers swatted the competition and claimed a district title with a 4-1 win over Wanette in the championship game.
Sixth-ranked Roff advanced to next week’s 2A Regional Tournament at a site yet to be determined with a 21-15 record.
“I guarantee you Stonewall and Wanette were both good enough to win a lot of the other districts.I knew coming in we were going to have to go play,” Gregson said."These teams have caused us problems in the past and then you have the fact that they’re our rivals. This was a big hurdle for us to get over.”
In an earlier winner’s bracket game, Roff broke a 2-2 tie with five runs in the top of the seventh to turn back Wanette 7-2.
Wanette (16-11) advanced to the championship game by edging Stonewall 6-5 with a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Other tournament action saw Wanette stop the Lady Longhorns, 5-1, in the first game of the day, Roff romp past Maud 17-2 in another first-round contest and Stonewall (12-16) stymie Maud 16-0 in a loser-out contest.
Roff 4, Wanette 1
The host Lady Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the first — thanks to two WHS errors — and would never trail in the title game.
Roff made it 3-0 with a run in the third after Kayla Balthrop reached on an error — the third and final miscue of the game for Wanette — and scored when Jamie Fowler blasted a two-out double off the fence in left-center field.
Wanette loaded the bases with two out in the top of the third before Kailee Himes drove in a run with a single to center field. Sally Wallace tried to score from second but Jessica Fullingim was picked off straying too far away from the bag before the runner cross the plate.
Balthrop scored her third run of the game on a two-out double by Kati Bailey that just missed clearing the fence in right-center.
Wanette threatened in the seventh when Wallace led off with a single and went to third on a double by Miranda Hover. But Stevanna Segerlund popped out to shortstop for the final out.
Roff managed just five hits in the game — two by Bailey.
“We had some people step up in some big situations. I was really proud of them. They fought there way out of a lull,” Gregson said.
Roff also made several nice defensive plays in the game including Tess Truett’s running catch of a Morgan Lipsey hit to left-center field, Jennifer Gordy’s catch near the foul line in left field of a drive by Hallea Middleton; and third baseman Tyal Truett’s nice grab behind the bag and long throw to first to rob Lipsey of another hit.
Wallace went 2-for-2 to lead the visiting Lady Tigers, who collected eight hits in the game.
Roff 7, Wanette 2
Wanette grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second on a volley started with the bottom of the lineup.
Hover, Segerlund and Emily Smith — Wanette’s seventh through ninth batters — led off with consecutive singles that produced the first WHS run of the game. Chelsea Ballard, batting 10th, then drove in the second run via a fielder’s choice. But Roff got out of the inning with further damage when Sasha Schramm flied out to rover and Balthrop made a nice stab at shorstop of a hard-hit ball by Middleton.
Roff went scoreless through four innings before finally producing a run in the top of the fifth when Jenny Davis led off with a single and later raced home on a two-out base hit by Balthrop.
The hosts were able to knot the score at 2-2 in the sixth after Fowler reached on an error, went to second on a hit by Skylar Logan and raced home on a single off the left-center field wall by Gordy.
Roff missed a chance to go ahead when Logan tried to score on a groundout to third by Jenny Davis. Wanette first baseman Smith fired a throw to catcher Hover who made the tag and held on to the ball despite a collision at home.
Gregson’s troops finally surged ahead with five runs in the top of the seventh even though the inning started quietly enough. C.J. Horton hit a one-out single but will still at first after Wanette quickly recorded the second out of the inning.
Balthrop then beat out an infield single and Bailey pushed across the go-ahead run with an RBI hit. A Tess Truett base knock loaded the bases before Fowler gave the Lady Tiger plenty of insurance runs with a grand slam that cleared the fence in left-center field.
“Everyone remember’s Jamie’s grand slam, but Kati’s was a big hit too. That hit kind of took the pressure off,” Gregson said.
Tess Truett led a 14-hit Roff attack, going 3-for-4 while Balthrop and Gordy added two hits each.
Wallace had two hits again for the WHS Lady TIgers and also made the defensive play of the game at shorstop when she hustled to stop a hard hit ball by Bailey behind second base, stepped on the bagged and fired to first for an inning-ending double play in the top of the third.
Wanette 6, Stonewall 5
The Lady Longhorns nearly didn’t allow Wanette into the finals.
Stonewall tied the game at 5-5 with a run in the top of the seventh when Shelby Lackey reached on one of six Wanette errors, went all the way to third on a base hit by pinch-hitter Alex Vazquez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tesia Worcester.
But Wanette answered in the bottom of the seventh when Fullingim doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Hover’s one-out, game-ending double to the left field corner.
Wanette struck first with four runs in the bottom of the third.
Wallace delivered the big blow of the frame, a bases-loaded double that produced three RBIs. She then scored on an RBI double by Fullingim hit well down the right field line.
Stonewall scored an error-aided run in the top of the fourth before tying the score at 4-4 with three runs in the fifth. During that big SHS outburst, pinch-hitter Rena Serpa drilled a two- RBI double and Kristy Byrd added an RBI hit. Stonewall still had runners at first and third with just one out but couldn’t push any more runs across.
Hover went 3-for-4 to lead a 12-hit Wanette atatack while Schramm, Middleton and Fullingim all added two hits each.
Stonewall got two hits from both Cherokee Brown, Tamera Thomas and Kristie Byrd.
Wanette 5, Stonewall 1
This game was scoreless until Lipsey’s two-run homer in the top of the sixth for Wanette.
Serpa came through again in the bottom of the sixth for Stonewall, delivering a pinch-hit RBI single to cut the WHS lead to 2-1.
But Wanette put the game out of reach with a three-run outburst in the top of the seventh.
Middleton paced Wanette at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Stonewall managed just four hits by four different players.
Maud made an early exit from district play, losing by a combined count of 33-2 to Roff and then Stonewall.
Roff got grand slam from Horton that bounced off the top of the fence in left field in a 17-2 win over Maud. Tess Truett went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Balthrop blasted an inside the park home run down the right field line.
Stonewall didn’t allow a Maud hit in three inning while Kristie Byrd led the SHS offense, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Felicia Logsdon walked twice with the bases loaded for Stonewall and scored twice while Lackey finished with three RBIs.
By JEFF CALI