Experienced Mustangs expect much

Published 9:15 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Isabella softball coach Mike Ratliff wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance in an 8-1 win over Verbena yesterday. When you’re the area’s most experienced team that is looking to improve on two year’s worth of postseason success, high expectations come with the territory.

Shortstop and leadoff hitter Kayla Brackin was the only graduate from the 2008 Isabella softball team, but the loss was offset when senior third baseman Krysta Tyler and junior shortstop Kimi Jones, starters on the 2007 team, decided to don their uniforms after not playing last year.

The positive net change in the number of experienced players on the Isabella roster have the Mustangs (3-1) and coach Mike Ratliff thinking they are ready to take the next step after an area runner-up finish in ‘07 and an area championship last season.

“This is a good group of girls. They’re always eager to come to practice,” Ratliff said. “I think our success over the last two years—they know what is out there for them, and they’re eager to do that again and then try to go on even further.”

Isabella took control early in yesterday’s game when Raelynn Liveoak, Tyler and Allison Mims all doubled in the top of the first inning to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.

That would turn out to plenty of run support for Liveoak, Isabella’s starting pitcher. The Red Devils (1-4) couldn’t get the ball out of the infield in Liveoak’s six innings of work, though Chanin Hancock’s ground ball to third base in the fourth inning was hit hard enough to break up Liveoak’s no-hit bid.

Isabella added a run in the fifth when Dezaray Lodge’s single scored Liveoak, and the Mustangs broke the game open with five runs in the sixth inning.

Samantha Culp, Kaylynn Culp, Kinslee Mims and Jones went hit, hit, walk and hit to begin the frame with three runs. Machelle Maulding and Tyler drove in a pair of runs later in the inning.

Verbena got on the board in the seventh after Tyler had replaced Liveoak. Haley Thornton walked to lead off the inning, and her pinch runner, Destinee Tyus, stole both second and third bases before scoring on an error.