The Latta Lady Panthers flexed their muscles during a 14-2 win over Coalgate in the first round of the 2013 Beast of the East softball tournament Thursday in Stonewall.
Latta pounded six home runs among 13 hits in just three innings of work in the impressive run-rule victory over the Lady Wildcats.
The Lady Panthers, ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, improved to 7-5 on the spring, while Coalgate (No. 12 in Class 4A) fell to 7-4.
“We told them before the game started to find dead center on the ball, let it fly and see what happens. The wind was blowing, and we got some to fall out,” Latta head coach Jim Foster said of his team’s home run six-pack. “I was impressed with the way they found the center of the ball.”
In another early first-round matchup, Byng scored four insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth to finally get some breathing room in a tough 11-6 win over upset-minded Stuart.
The Lady Pirates, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A, improved to 6-1, while Stuart (No. 11 in Class 2A) fell to 9-3.
Latta 14, Coalgate 2
Jordyn Scott started off the Latta home run derby, making Coalgate pitcher Stasia Roebuck pay for walks to Carlee Henderson and Madison Abney with a three-run blast over the center field fence. Autumn Balch followed a Katie Miller single with an RBI double off the fence in left-center. Sydney Brinlee then blasted a two-out, two-run homer to push the Latta lead to 6-0 heading into the second inning.
Coalgate got on the scoreboard in the top of the second when Landi Munholland singled, went to second on an error and later scored on Latta’s second miscue of the inning.
Makenzi Lamb got into the home run act when she hit a two-run blast following a single by 11-hole hitter Tyler Ann Whitney in the bottom of the second that gave Latta an 8-1 lead.
The Lady Wildcats scored another run in the top of the third on a hit by Bailey Hughes and an RBI double by Kaci Trentham.
Latta finished Coalgate off in the bottom of the third with six more runs — including a two-run homer by Brinlee (her second of the game), a solo blast by Anna Wood and a three-run, walk-off shot by Lamb (her second of the game).
“It's a good way to start the tournament. We’re still struggling in spots on defense, but that will get better. I’m real happy with what happened today,” Foster said.
Lamb would finish with five RBIs, while Brinlee drove in four runs. Ten of the 11 Latta players in the lineup had at least one hit.
Latta was scheduled to play the Tushka-Coleman winner today at 3:30 p.m.
Byng 11, Stuart 6
The Lady Hornets used a two-run homer by Kylie Jernigen in the top of the fifth inning to cut Byng’s lead to 7-6, but the Lady Pirates scored four times in the bottom of the inning to finally secure the win.
Byng head coach Andi Grissom was impressed with Stuart, which actually out-hit the Lady Pirates 15-12 and stayed close to her team until the end.
“They’re ranked No. 11 (in Class 2A) for a reason. They only have two losses. Chance (Chapman) is a really good coach, and he gets his teams prepared. They stayed right there with us,” she said. “Like I told the girls, it’s kind of been a search-and-rescue mission at the end, but we find a way to win every time.”
Sydney Fuller jump-started the Byng offense in the bottom of the fifth, leading off with a solo home run. Kaylen Fike — who finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBIs — later added a two-run triple that gave Byng its five-run cushion.
Stuart got back-to-back RBI hits from Jesse Jones and Jessica Alexander in the top of the third that put the Lady Hornets on top 4-2. But Byng answered with a five-run explosion in the bottom of the third and wouldn’t trail again.
Kolbie Bailey led off that inning with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Layna Abbott that cut the Stuart lead to 4-3. Breecia Crawford drove in a run on an infield hit that tied the game, and Alexis Hill followed with a go-ahead, two-run double (her second two-bagger of the contest). Fike capped the third-inning scoring with an RBI single that gave her team a 7-4 lead. Byng had six of its 12 hits in the big inning.
“We’re making adjustments hitting-wise, which is awesome. We’re finding ways to get on base,” Grissom said. “We had a few mistakes, but I expect that. We’ve still only had five practices.”
Raygn Geiger joined Fike with three hits for Byng, while Hill finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Kylie Jernigen went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored for Stuart, while Emilee Beck also went 3-for-3, scored three runs and made several nice plays at shortstop.
Byng was scheduled to meet Asher today in a 2:20 p.m. winner’s bracket game.
Editor’s Note: Due to an earlier-than-normal press time, the rest of Thursday’s first-round action at the Beast of the East Tournament will be included in Sunday’s edition of The Ada News.