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March 26, 2014

Latta earns first win against Byng

Latta —    The Latta Lady Panthers scratched for an error-aided run in the bottom of the sixth to slip past local rival Byng 6-5 at home Monday evening.

   Latta snapped a season-opening, four-game losing streak to improve to 1-4 on the young season, while Byng fell to 1-3.

   “It’s amazing what a little practice can do for you,” said Latta head coach Jim Foster.

   The Lady Panthers have had only two outdoor workouts since the beginning of the season, thanks in part to the Latta girls basketball team’s extended playoff run.

   “It was a typical early game. We had chances to score some more runs but couldn’t get a hit at the right time. Those hits will start coming in a week or two,” Foster said.

   Byng head coach Andi Hurst said her team needed to hit more line drives and ground balls. The Lady Pirates had 10 fly balls tracked down by Latta outfielders.  

   “We hit too many popups. When we would hit the ball on the ground, it seemed like we’d get on base. We have to make those adjustments. We know Latta can catch fly balls,” she said.

   The game was tied at 5-5 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Savanna Humphrey reached on an error to start the inning and sped to third base on a double by Taylor Bates, who was hitting in the 10th spot in the Latta lineup. Humphrey then scored what turned out to be the game winner on a ground ball to second base by Maebree Abney.

   Byng sent some of its big bats to the plate in the top of the seventh, but Layna Abbott’s drive to left field was caught at the fence by Matison Worcester, and Jordyn Scott had to make a small leap in center field to haul in a shot by Sidney Fuller for the final out of the game.

   Latta struck first in the see-saw affair.

   The Lady Panthers scored twice in their first at-bats with a two-out uprising. After Byng pitcher Rachel Benes got two quick outs, Maria Priest walked, Scott singled and Madison Abney walked to load the bases.

   Chelsea Alexander then blooped a base hit into shallow right field that scored two runs and put Latta on top 2-0.

   Byng got both runs back in the bottom of the inning. Fuller blasted a double to the wall in left center to lead things off, and she later came home on a sacrifice fly by Benes. Alexis Hill then ripped a two-out double and scored on an RBI hit by RayAnn Wheat. Byng would go on to load the bases but couldn’t get another runner home.

   The Lady Pirates broke the 2-2 tie with an error-aided run in the top of the fourth.

   Latta surged ahead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Priest had an RBI double in the inning, Scott supplied a run-scoring single and Alexander was credited with a sacrifice fly that put Latta back on top at 5-3.

   Byng again knotted the score when Case just beat a throw to first base for a two-out, two-RBI, infield single.

   Priest would finish 2-for-2 with two runs scored in Latta’s 11-hit attack, while Scott also had two hits and scored twice. Bates had two doubles for Latta.

   Alexis Hill had two hits and scored two times for Byng, while Wheat finished 2-for-3. Tatum Hill scored two runs for the visitors.

   Both Byng and Latta are part of the loaded 20-team 2014 Beast of the East Tournament in Stonewall ,which runs Thursday through Saturday. Latta will meet Coalgate at 3 p.m., while Byng takes on Rattan at 8 p.m.

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