Jemison softball knocked out of area tournament at West Blocton

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, May 1, 2014

By Trey Hickman | Special to the Advertiser

Jemison softball couldn’t survive Day 1 of the Class 4A Area 7 tournament, falling 10-0 to host West Blocton before being eliminated by Calera, 6-0.

In the world of polar opposites, the tournament’s Game 1 matchup between the Panthers and West Blocton served as a prime example.

Jemison starting pitcher Kennison Bolton and her West Blocton counterpart Sarah Lippeatt were locked in an all-out pitchers’ duel, with Bolton tossing four innings of two-hit ball and Lippeatt hurling a two-hit shutout of her own over five innings.

That’s when the contest turned on a dime–and in a big way.

West Blocton’s first three batters reached base to open the bottom of the fifth inning, a beginning that would prove ominous of the offensive onslaught to come.

Kaci Champion kicked off the scoring with an RBI walk and later sealed the win for West Blocton with a single that drove in the final two Tigers to end the game courtesy of the 10-run mercy rule.

West Blocton sent 13 batters to the plate that inning, including seven before the first out was recorded.

For four innings, Bolton, only an eighth-grader, filled in admirably for scheduled starter Jennifer Paschal, who left the game in the top of the first after a pitch hit her hand during a swing.

“(Our) starting pitcher gets injured in an at-bat before she even gets to throw a pitch, and we have an eighth-grader come in and pitch (four) scoreless innings,” said Jemison coach Nathan Hayes. “It’s one of those things (that have happened before): We start with (surrendering) a walk or a single or a bloop or an error, and it kind of steamrolls after that.”

Jasmine Epperson and Brooke Lewis logged a hit apiece for the Panthers.

Looking to keep its season alive, Jemison endured a troubling start against Calera.

The Eagles plated three runs in the top of the first, including two driven in via walks, giving Calera more offense than they would need.

Meanwhile, Eagles starter Katie Eiland cruised on her way to a complete-game one-hitter.

The Eagles tacked on insurance runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings en route to the win.

Jemison’s lone hit didn’t come until Taylor Ray’s one-out single in the bottom of the seventh.

“We struggled hitting the ball today, and that was a big thing,” Hayes said. “We made some good plays behind our pitcher today and had chances. We just (didn’t) hit the ball. It’s one of those things: Some days you hit, some days you don’t. Today we didn’t. It’s about that simple.

“I wish we would have done more for our seniors. (But we’ll) get ready to get back after it next year.”

Jemison ended its season with a 15-14 record.