Vidalia survives for win over Mangham

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Credit sophomore pitcher Brittany Whittington for getting out of a jam when the getting was good.

With the bases loaded and one out and the Vidalia Lady Vikings holding a one-run lead, the stage was set for things to really go wrong. But the sophomore hurler got a strikeout and a flyout to end the inning.

Yet it was a jam that could have completely been averted. The Lady Vikings got out of it and added insurance runs late for a 6-2 win over Mangham.

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&8220;If we can just get the defense behind her &8212; we haven&8217;t had defense all year,&8221; Vidalia head coach Gary Paul Parnham said. &8220;We had eight (errors) yesterday at Monterey. It&8217;s making the pitchers get extra outs and throw to extra batters. We&8217;re making rookie mistakes, and the people making them aren&8217;t rookies.&8221;

The miscues on Vidalia&8217;s part made for a longer game, something no one wanted on a day as cold and windy as it was Thursday afternoon. But Whittington had a shutout up until that fifth inning, got out of the jam and left in the sixth inning after taking a line drive to the leg off the bat of Jennifer Gilley.

Whittington, a sophomore, left after that with Kelly O&8217;Gwin coming in to close the door. The two are the Lady Vikings&8217; second and third pitchers this season &8212; Whittington has hardly thrown due to a medical condition &8212; after projected starter Megan Bolyer broke a bone in her throwing hand prior to the season.

And with Whittington leaving early with a bruised ankle, it just added more frustration to a season that&8217;s had its share of it for Parnham and his staff.

&8220;She got hit there before,&8221; Parnham said. &8220;We didn&8217;t have her last year, and this is her first year back out since playing in junior high. It&8217;s a learning process with her as we go, and she&8217;s getting better. But my starting center fielder has torn cartilage in her knee. It&8217;s been like that for every sport at Vidalia High School. It&8217;s one of those years, I guess.&8221;

Not to say there wasn&8217;t any frustration on the part of the Lady Dragons Thursday, either. They trailed 3-0 after four when Cody Franks led off with a single and scored on a double from Jennifer Gilley.

Gilley scored on a groundout from Kellie Kotten to trim the deficit to one, and an error and a single loaded the bases off Whittington. But the next batter went down swinging, and Brittany Evans made a running catch in left on a ball hit by Jessica Simmons to end it.

&8220;We couldn&8217;t get it going when we needed to,&8221; Mangham head coach Angie Snuggs said. &8220;We&8217;re struggling scoring runs, and we&8217;ve had that a lot this year. We get them on base and can&8217;t get them home. We&8217;ve got a lot of injuries, and our basketball teams played in the state tournament.&8221;

That may have been the worst of it, but Mangham (2-18-2) had its chances to score later but couldn&8217;t get the key hit. After O&8217;Gwin came in for Whittington, Kotten walked to put runners at first and second before the next batter struck out.

In the seventh, Mangham loaded the bases with one out when Brittany Orem lined out back to O&8217;Gwin, who threw to first to double up the baserunner for a double play to end the game.

The Lady Vikings did better at the plate by pushing runs across in all but two innings against Mangham starter Kotten. Jamiee Jordan singled in two runs in the first, Mary Katherine Golden doubled in O&8217;Gwin in the third for a 3-0 lead and doubled in O&8217;Gwin again in the fifth for a 4-2 lead.

Mangham nearly had Vidalia retired in order in the sixth until an infield fly fell in with two outs. Rachel Roberts singled in Cariana Roberts, and Chelsie McElwee scored on another error for the 6-2 lead.