Dunn homers, Young pitches Lady Hounds to title –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
“Down and Ready.” “Play at any base,” “Way to hang.” Swing hard.” All of the typical softball phrases drifted through the air last Thursday evening in Winchester as the Manchester Lady Hounds and the North Adams “Lil Darlings” took the field to battle it out for the Southern Hills Youth League 10U tournament championship.
The rules in 10U softball allow no walks and no stolen bases, so if a pitcher throws four balls to a batter, a coach comes to the field to throw three pitches to finish off the at-bat with either a strikeout or a ball put in play. On Thursday night, those coaches coming out to toss looked like Jennie Finch as offense was at a premium the whole evening and a whole lot of K’s littered the two scorebooks.
As fans of local high school softball have seen, if a team has that one dominant pitcher, they can be very competitive and both of these 10U squads had girls who have a bright future in the center circle, with North Adams throwing Karis Tumbleson and for Manchester it was Rylie Young. With those two right handers battling it out on the mound, the only offense of the game came from the very first batter.
Leading off the top of the first for the Lady Hounds was Madison Dunn and she cranked a drive to left field and took off around the bases, circling all four for a leadoff home run to give her team a 1-0 advantage, and it held up.
Hits were scarce for the North Adams girls as their first six batters were retired, five of them via the strikeout. Manchester got an infield hit to lead off the top of the second from Brooke Chamblin but she was left stranded as the next three hitters were retired.
The first base runner for the Lil’ Darlings came when Bentley Schweickart led off the bottom of the third with a single to left, but she went no further as the next trio of batters all went down on strikes. No one reached base again until the top half of the fifth with Carlee Garrison now handling the pitching chores for North Adams. Shortstop Chloe Freeman led off with a single, but again three consecutive hitters went down swinging to leave Freeman stuck at first base.
The final chance for North Adams came in the bottom of the fifth, which began with Young striking out both Tumbleson and McKenna Shelton. Down to their last out, the Lil’ Darlings sent Schweickart to the plate and she smacked a pitch past second base and into right-center field for a two-bagger, but when she attempted to get to third base, Young picked up the ball and threw to third baseman Taylor Rideout, who applied the tag on a close play for the game’s final out.
With the last out in the books, the Lady Hounds could celebrate, awarded their championship medals in postgame ceremonies and finishing their season with a record of 10-3.