Devils finally win game at state

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here comes the pitch: Autumn Smith delivers a pitch Thursday at the Class 1A state softball tournament. Smith started all three games in the circle for Maplesville.

Maplesville’s run ended short of a state championship, but the softball can still say it had the best showing in school history.

The Red Devils, making their fourth consecutive appearance in the Class 1A state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, on Thursday won their first tournament game.

First-year MHS coach Chad Harrison said the team focused all week only on the first game of the event, and it showed as the Devils pulled out a 14-3 win in five innings over Tharptown.

Harrison especially drilled his players on bunt defense. The strategy proved genius when, in the second inning, Tharptown laid down a bunt with a runner on third base.

Just as the Devils had practiced, the defense faked a throw to first base but then threw home to get out the lead runner.

“It was very encouraging when they bunted and we did just what we practiced,” Harrison said.

Natalie Arnold led off the bottom of the first inning with a base hit and came around to score, setting the tone for an offense that exploded for seven runs in the third inning to build a 10-3 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.

Autumn Smith pitched a complete game and earned the win.

“They put the ball in play, and we just played good defense behind them,” Harrison said.

Arnold reached base each of the four times she came to bat. Morgan Little, Alexus Goggins and Sarina Gutierrez each reached base three times.

All nine batters in the lineup scored at least one run.

Maplesville next lost two games (3-1 to Kinston and 13-2 to Ragland) to be eliminated from the tournament.

Two errors led to three unearned runs in the Kinston game.

Little went 2-for-3 and scored her team’s only run in the contest.

MHS finished in fifth place in the tournament, but Harrison told the players they had reason to hold their heads high.

“I told them they were the most successful team in school history,” he said.