By Will Johnson
WESTWOOD – It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The Sandiettes had overcome adversity all year long and were primed to do it once again. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Hannah Chipman was on third base and ready to score the tying run.
The Sandiettes had battled very questionable umpiring throughout the game, but here they were yet again, poised to tie the game and either win it in regulation or send it into extra innings.
In a perfect world, Alto’s catcher lets one get by her or the aluminum bat makes that distinctive ping as it sends the ball slicing through the air and into the outfield for a hit. Either way Chipman sprints home to tie the game at two.
Unfortunately, the world of softball is far from perfect and neither of the two scenarios played out. A ground out brought the game and the Grapeland season to a close as they fell to the Alto Lady Jackets by a final of 2-1.
The game was a pitchers’ duel throughout the contest as Alto’s Abbie Teutsch squared off against Grapeland’s Cadie Belle Currie.
In the first inning of play, Currie gave up a hit to Annie Cox to lead off the game but she was only able to make it as far as second before Currie forced Shay Griffin to ground out to end the inning.
When Teutsch took over the circle she was equally as effective and only allowed Hailee Sheridan to reach base on a two out walk.
In the second inning, Currie sandwiched a base knock from Maquela Jackson between a groundout and a K before recording the third out on a 4-3 force at first.
The Sandiettes seemed to follow the Lady Jackets lead in their half of the second. Madison Holbrook struck out, Maddie McCombs singled to right, Chipman was rung up and KeKe Harris grounded out to send the game into the third inning with the score tied, 0-0.
The Lady Jackets broke through for an unearned run in the top of the third. Currie retired the first two batters she faced to start the inning before she gave up a single to Jacey Hicks. Teutsch was up next and lined a pitch into left which took a funny hop and scooted underneath Haylee Reed’s glove.
The ball rolled all the way to the fence and allowed Hicks to score from first to make it 1-0. Currie shook off the run and struck out the next batter she faced to end the top of the third.
After the Sandiettes went quietly in the bottom of the third, things got a little strange as the fourth inning began.
Jackson led off with a pop up for the first out. Currie recorded two quick strikes on Abby Bernard and then walked her on four straight pitches, at least three of which appeared to be strikes.
The questionable calls brought Grapeland Head Coach Joel Barbosa out of the dugout as well as Alto Head Coach Luke Balkcom. The home plate umpire appeared to struggling with the heat and was overheard to admit he couldn’t see the ball.
He was given some water and was asked to switch places with the field ump. Barbosa agreed to the
move as did the field ump but Balkcom balked at the move. Grapeland AD Wayne Mahaffey was summoned to the field as was Alto AD Paul Gould.
Following an approximate 15 minute delay, the game resumed with the home plate umpire back behind the plate but not before a formal protest with UIL was filed by Grapeland.
With Alto still at-bat, Alice Jones dropped a bunt that was fielded by Chipman at third. Her throw to first sailed wide and allowed Bernard to advance to third on the play. Currie caught Annie Cox looking at strike three and looked as if she might get out of the inning unscathed, however, Ally Bernard nicked her for a single to plate her younger sister and make the score 2-0.
Once again, Currie shook off the unearned run and retired the next batter she faced to end the top of the inning and turned the game over to her offense. The Sandiette bats, however, didn’t have a hit in them and they went quietly in the bottom of the fourth.
Alto was unable to generate any offense in the top of the inning, but the Sandiettes finally broke through for a run in their half of the frame.
Madi McCombs singled to lead off the inning. Chipman was called out on strikes, but McCombs advanced to second when KeKe Harris beat out a bunt.
McCombs was thrown out at third trying to steal, but Harris moved into scoring position. Haylee Reed walked and Taylar Mullen ripped a shot to left that scored the speedy Harris from second. On the play, however, Reed was thrown out at third, but the Sandiettes had broken their scoring drought and now only trailed 2-1.
That was as close as the Sandiettes would get, unfortunately as Alto held on to defeat Grapeland by a final score of 2-1.
Teutsch picked up the win with seven innings of work. She gave up one run on six hits, had five strikeouts and walked two.
Currie took the loss with seven innings pitched. She gave up two runs (both unearned) on seven hits, had nine strikeouts and walked two.
At the plate Grapeland was led by Madi McCombs who was 2-3 and Taylar Mullen who was 1-3 with an RBI.
Alto was led by Abby Bernard who was 2-4.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.