Vicksburg errors, Cathedral bats prove good combo

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — Four Vicksburg errors and a triple by catcher Epiphany Jackson were key in Cathedral’s eight-run third inning as the Lady Green Wave defeated the Missy Gators 15-2 Thursday afternoon.

It was difficult to figure out what was hotter — the near 100-degree heat or the hits scorched by Cathedral, especially in the second and third innings when the Lady Green Wave had nine of their 12 hits.

Vicksburg committed four of its eight errors in the bottom of the third inning, which allowed five runs to score. Jackson’s triple to the fence in left field scored Betsy Daggett and Mae Durkin, and Rachel Smilo brought in a run on a fielder’s choice to give Cathedral (3-2) a commanding 14-2 lead.

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“Our bats are finally coming around,” Cathedral head coach Pam Clayton said. “We’re stringing runs together. They’re getting there. They’re getting confidence.”

Cathedral showed a lot of patience at the plate against Vicksburg pitcher Kaci Flaharty. In the bottom of the first inning, Flaharty walked Zoie Arnold with one out and Melissa Cavin and Betsy Daggett with two outs. Durkin ripped a double to left centerfield to bring in Arnold and Cavin, but Daggett was thrown out trying to score from first and the Missy Gators were lucky to get out of that inning down just 2-0.

Vicksburg (2-3) cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the second when Kierra Young got on with a walk, went to second on a single by Samantha Frith, then to third when Liz Rayfield reached on an error and scored on a two-out single by Jonitra Bingham. However, Frith was thrown out at home for the third out.

“We were missing some of our normal starters,” Vicksburg head coach Laura Coulter said. “We just hit it right at them when we hit the ball. We were struggling. They just outplayed us.”

Cathedral started to put the game out of reach when it scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Beth Fortenbery reached on a fielder’s choice and Ginny Daggett singled and then an error by Vicksburg right fielder Tira Erwin allowed Fortenbery and Daggett to move into scoring position.

After Rachel Smilo walked to load the bases, Elizabeth Blackwell came up big with a two-run single to give the Lady Green Wave a 4-1 lead. An errant throw allowed Smilo to go to third and Blackwell to go to second. Arnold then singled in Smilo and, after a single by Anna Huffines loaded the bases loaded again, Cavin singled to bring in Blackwell for a 6-1 lead.

“We’ve really been working on patience and pitch selection,” Clayton said. “They’re finally connecting and learning how to hit the ball hard.”

That would be all the offense that Lady Green Wave pitcher Smilo would need as she gave up just two runs on six hits, struck out three and walked just one in five innings.

“She’s really coming around and holding her own,” Clayton said. “It’s all the experience she gained in (junior varsity).”

Smilo got plenty of help from her defense, and it showed in the top of the third inning. After leadoff hitter Kristi Shelby with a single, Brittany King hit a ground ball back to second baseman Arnold, who threw to shortstop Blackwell at second for the force out. Then Flaharty lined out to Smilo, who caught King off the bag and threw to first baseman Durkin for the double play.

An inning after Cathedral had already had the game in hand, it scored its final run when Smilo led off with a triple and scored on a single by Blackwell.