IHS wins area title in extra innings

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Isabella capped a marathon day with a 14-11 victory in eight innings over county rival Maplesville in the Area 5-1A championship on May 1.

It was the third game between the teams on the day and only fitting that extra innings were required.

“It was a battle and very nerve-racking,” Isabella senior Lexi Owens said. “To come out on top feels really great, especially being a senior.

Mackenzie Ratliff hit the game-winning RBI single in the top of the eighth inning and the Mustangs added two more insurance runs with a sacrifice fly from Gracie Fjeldstad and another single by Trinity Cox.

“When we work together, we showed that we’ve got it,” Cox said.

Cox went back to work in the circle in the bottom half of the inning, and Isabella was area champion three outs later.

“If you put in the time and effort to go through a day like that, it’s always best to come out on top,” Isabella head coach Dustin Green said. “I know the fans enjoyed it.”

The teams combined for 89 hits in the three meetings during the area tournament.

“Hitting was certainly not the issue today,” Green said. “Both teams just hit the ball so well. It came down to who was going to make the pitches at the right point and the plays at the right time.”

Kristin Wilson had three RBIs to lead Isabella in the final game, while Emily Smitherman drove in three runs of her own in the losing effort for Maplesville.

No lead seemed safe, which made it no surprise when the Red Devils stormed back and pushed the game to extra innings with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Of the 22 innings the two teams played against each other on May 1, only two of those innings included no runs by either Isabella or Maplesville.

“He’s here helping us everyday,” Owens said. “He could be at home with his family, but him being here shows that he really appreciates us.”

Cox and Noelle Fjeldstad both started games against the Red Devils during the tournament, while Kaylee Wright handled the bulk of the pitching for Maplesville.

“We’ve relied on those two [Cox and Noelle Fjeldstad] pretty much all season,” Green said. “We’ve leaned on them and they’ve delivered.”

Maplesville defeated Isabella 20-12 in Game 1 of the championship after the Mustangs had edged out a 17-10 victory earlier in the day.

Wilson, Noelle Fjeldstad, Owens and Cox hit home runs for Isabella during the contests. Karley Smitherman knocked one out for Maplesville.

It was the first career home run for Cox.

“I was on top of the world,” Cox said. “I’ve been trying and trying. When I hit it, I knew it.”

Isabella and Maplesville both advance to play in the AHSAA South Central Super Regional at Troy Sportsplex.

“When we first started the season it was just error after error,” Owens said. “As we’ve grown, now we play ball better than anyone I’ve seen. We have some unfinished business from last year.”