Ferriday Dixie Debs squad uses bats, pitchers to win district

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Ferriday Gators’ 11 runs in the District 5 Dixie Debs championship game catapulted the undefeated team to a high seed in the 2016 state tournament Tuesday, but what might have gone unnoticed in the slugfest was the efficiency of Ferriday’s pitching staff.

Pitchers Bailey Book, Emma Whittington and Jania Burns combined to allow five hits and two walks over five innings in Ferriday’s 11-1 win over Delhi in the District 5 championship game at Delta Charter School. Delhi’s one run was unearned and all five hits were singles.

“We didn’t have many walks,” coach Rut Horne said. “That’s been the story of the whole tournament, keeping freebees to a minimum.”

Email newsletter signup

Book started the game — Horne said she started every game in the tournament for Ferriday — and stranded three runners over the two innings, in which she faced nine batters.

Book gave credit to her defense that made three errors across five innings.

“We have really good defense behind us, all the time,” Book said.

Brianna Henson started the home half of the first inning with a leadoff double, and eventually scored on an error. Ferriday’s first four batters reached base and scored in the top of the second inning, beginning with a leadoff single from Burns. Book and Whittington laced RBI singles and Cassie Gonzales hit a two-RBI single and scored on a sacrifice fly from Makenzie Landers.

“We’ve been hitting the ball fairly well, and it’s better against pitchers who throw a lot of strikes,” Horne said. “In one game (during the tournament) we had 10 walks. We didn’t score many runs because you can hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat.”

Ferriday’s one run came after Delhi’s Sierra Jinks reached on an error in the top of the fourth inning. Whittington loaded the bases with nobody out, and Delhi managed to scratch across one run. Whittington recorded Ferriday’s lone strikeout with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth.

Whittington is a 14-year-old playing in a 16- to 18- year old Debs age group to get more experience before her high school season.

“(Playing up) can be intimidating at times,” Whittington said.

With a 10-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Whittington led off with a triple and scored on a base hit from Henson to complete the run-rule victory in five innings.

Ferriday cruised through district and qualified for the state tournament. Burns said the past week was a confidence booster for her squad, which is represented by players from five different high schools in the Miss-Lou area.

“This helped our chemistry as a team,” Burns said.

The top two teams from each district qualified for the state tournament played in Alexandria on July 16.

“The competition will pick up at state,” Horne said. “We’ll see more good pitching and good defenses that won’t be making errors.”