Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
The first foray into postseason play was a successful one for Coach John Kennedy and his Manchester Lady Hounds softball squad as they hosted an opening round Division IV sectional game on Monday, May 8. Providing the opposition for the sixth seeded Lady Hounds were the tourney’s number 11 seed, the Lady Tartans of Sciotoville East.
The Lady Hounds played ungracious hosts in this sectional, taking an early lead and never looking back behind the arm and bat of pitcher Madison Jones, posting a 10-3 win over East to advance to the sectional finals on May 11, where they will travel to number three seeded Paint Valley. (Results of that game were not available at press time.)
Jones was the key in the win over East, going 4 for 4 at the plate and scoring two runs, and for good measure, throwing a complete game four-hitter from the center circle.
“We got contributions from the entire team tonight at the plate” said Coach Kennedy of his team’s 14-hit attack. “I can’t think of one kid that didn’t contribute at the plate.”
“I’m really pleased with the win obviously. It’s nice to get a tournament win at home against a non-conference school, representing our school and the SHAC. Madison Jones pitched very well for us. She overcame a bit of a mechanical flaw early that caused her to lose some control, but she showed some growth and maturity by making the adjustment and overcoming it. Earlier in the season, she would have continued to struggle, so I was proud of her for that and excited to see that kind of growth from her.”
The Lady Hounds scored in the bottom of the first on an RBI ground out by designated hitter Miranda Schiltz, and then tacked on four more in the bottom of the second.
The first of those came when Jones singled and came home on a double to left by McKenzie Bell. That was followed by an Aaliyah Smith single and a sacrifice fly to right by Katie Sandlin that brought Bell home. Smith raced across on a two-bagger off the bat of Karley Young to make it 4-0 and a base hit by catcher Josie Campbell scored Young with the frame’s fourth run.
East pushed across their first run of the game in the top of the third, but the home team matched that when McKinlee Grooms singled and scored on a Smith base hit that made it 6-1.
The Lady Tartans rallied with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, but the Manchester girls put the game out of reach in their half of that same inning. The Lady Hounds plated four more runs, taking advantage of some East fielding miscues while getting a two-run triple from Sandlin and a run-scoring double from third baseman Kya Taylor that stretched the home team’s lead to 10-4.
That six-run margin turned out to be the final as Jones held the Lady Tartans scoreless in their final two at-bats, as she and her teammates celebrated a tourney win and a trip to a Division IV sectional championship contest at Paint Valley.
“They have arguably the best pitcher in southern Ohio,” Coach Kennedy says of the Lady Bearcats. “We lost to them last year in the sectional finals and we know we have a tough task ahead of us, but we are looking forward to the challenge. It’s not every day that you get to face a Division I college pitcher.”
001 020 0 –4
141 040 x –10
Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Sandlin 1-1-1-3, K. Young 3-2-1-1, Taylor 4-0-2-1, Campbell 4-0-2-1, Schiltz 4-0-0-1, Grooms 4-2-1-0, Jones 4-2-4-0, Bell 4-2-1-2, Smith 3-1-2-1, M. Young 0-0-0-0, Morrison 0-0-0-0, Team 31-10-14-10.
Extra-Base Hits: K. Young 2B, Bell 2B, Taylor 2B, Sandlin 3B
Manchester Pitching: Jones (W) 7 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 9 BB, 5 K