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O's use two big innings to top Cubs 7-1 in HHC tournament
, Courier Sportswriter
Saturday, May 17, 2014 5:00 AM
SLIDING IN: Columbus East’s Kaitlyn Wagner slides into third base (above) ahead of the throw to Madison third baseman Brooklyn Smith during Friday’s game at Lady Cub Field. Smith congratulates shortstop Bree Barnes (below) after a strong defensive play. East won 7-1 relegating Madison to Monday’s seventh-place game in the HHC tournament. These and other photos can be viewed at www.madisoncourier.com/photos. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Columbus East bunched all of its runs together in two innings to beat Madison 7-1 in the consolation semifinals of the Hoosier Hills Conference softball tournament Friday at Lady Cub Field.
The Olympians out-hit Madison 12-3 with nearly all of that damage done in two innings. East scored four runs on four hits in the second and three runs on five hits in the sixth.
Madison simply couldn't match that offensive onslaught. The Cubs managed only three singles and had only seven baserunners all game.
"I thought we got good pitching and the defense did everything they could. I really couldn't ask for anything more," Madison coach Tony Ralston said. "But on offense we're just not swinging the bats. We wanted to put pressure on their defense with bunts but we couldn't get the bunts down. We need to do a better job."
Madison (8-8) put two runners on base in the bottom of the first and another in the second but failed to cash in on either opportunity. As the game progressed, East starter Hayley Smalley found her groove and sat down 10 out of 11 batters at one point with the lone baserunner reaching on an error.
East, meanwhile, was stringing together hits and taking control. Singles by Taylor Hilderbrand, Kiersten Henderson and Erin Tharp, combined with a hit batter and an error, led to four runs in the second inning and an early 4-0 lead.
After struggling to get baserunners, Madison finally put together a two-out rally in the fifth to get on the scoreboard. Bree Barnes laced a shot up the middle for a single, stole second, then scored when the East first baseman had trouble fielding a low throw on what should have been the third out.
But Madison's rally didn't last long and the Olympians put the game away in the sixth. Freshman pitcher Alexis Wolf got the first two batters out on routine ground balls before East followed that with five-straight base-hits to score three runs. The big hits were a triple by Kaitlyn Wagner and a double by Tharp, both of which scored runs.
"East hit the ball hard and you have to give them credit," Ralston said. "But a lot of the hits they had were balls that just found their way in. Sometimes that's just the way it goes."
Madison went down in order over the final two innings to end the game.
Bri Tingle and LeAnn Fox joined Barnes as the only Cubs to pick up hits in the game.
Tharp went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs to lead East's offensive attack. Hilderbrand, Henderson and Kaitlynn Dye had two hits each and Elyse Babb and Smalley each had a hit.
Wolf gave up seven earned runs on 12 hits with a strikeout and a walk in five and two-third innings and suffered the loss. Fox worked the final inning and a third and did not allow a baserunner.
Smalley gave up only the one unearned run on three hits in seven innings and picked up the win. She struck out five batters and walked two.
Madison will now face Seymour for seventh place in the HHC on Monday. The Owls lost to New Albany 5-3 in the other consolation semifinal.
That game will be the first of five games heading into sectional starting on Memorial Day.
"We need to get mentally tougher. We have a tough week ahead and we need to be ready," Ralston said. "But we've got some tough kids on this team and I'm confident that we will get it done. I like this group and I know that."
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