Eufaula takes third straight over Lady Trojans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2001

Sports Writer

Junior starting pitcher Kristen Howard fired a two-hitter and got all the offense she needed in the top of the third inning as the Eufaula High School Lady Tigers stalled a late rally to defeat the Charles Henderson High School Lady Trojans 2-1 in Class 5A fast pitch softball action at the Troy SportsPlex Tuesday afternoon.

The win by Eufaula (14-5) marked the third time this season they have defeated the Lady Trojans in a tight pitchers’ duel this season after CHHS took four of six games from the Lady Tigers in 2000. In the previous two games, the Lady Tigers won 1-0 on March 17 in the Lady Trojan Invitational Tournament and 2-1 in Eufaula on March 22. Both teams are expected to face each other again at next weekend’s sectional tournament in Troy.

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Like the previous two outings, the pitchers on both teams were very sharp as Howard and Charles Henderson’s Rachel Spurlin battled tooth and nail all afternoon long with each hurler getting the side out in order over the first two innings.

Unfortunately, it was Eufaula who got the first break of the game in the top of the third when Kelsie McKenzie drew a walk on a borderline 3-2 pitch from Spurlin. On the very next pitch, the Lady Tigers made CHHS pay for its mishap as Laqueita Hogan slapped a triple into the left center field gap bringing in McKenzie for the game’s first run. One batter later, the Lady Tigers stayed aggressive at the plate as Holly Spurlock’s first pitch RBI single up the middle brought in Hogan for all of Eufaula’s scoring. Spurlin was able to get out of the inning without further damage when she forced Kasey Clements to hit into a rally ending double play.

In the bottom of the third, senior Christine Haug led off the inning with a single and reached second base on a wild pitch. However, Howard worked her way out of the jam retiring three of the next four batters as Laura Wesley grounded out to end the threat. From that point on, Howard retired the next nine batters she faced thanks to some great defensive help by her teammates on several hard hit balls by CHHS.

The score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the seventh when the Lady Trojans (15-14) threatened to steal the game from Howard. After Kelly Miller reached on an error, she reached second on a walk to Elizabeth Rountree bringing the potential winning run to the plate with nobody out. Howard settled down recording two consecutive strikeouts before Haug got her second hit of the afternoon when she delivered an RBI single to center field driving in Miller to cut the deficit to 2-1. After Haug stole second to put the winning run in scoring position, Howard came through again in the clutch striking out the side to end the game. Haug collected both hits for the Lady Trojans in a losing cause.

The day got worse for the Lady Trojans when senior center fielder Emily Watkins got hit on the lower left ankle on a pitch by Howard in the bottom of the third suffering a deep bruise. Watkins is expected to miss at least one game but should return at full strength for next weekend’s sectional tournament.

Howard earned the win striking out nine batters giving up only one walk and one unearned run as she went the distance.

Spurlin was charged with the hard luck loss allowing just two runs on four hits walking two and striking out three batters

The Lady Trojans return to action this afternoon when they travel to face the Enterprise High School Lady Wildcats in the final junior varsity/varsity doubleheader of the season. The first pitch is set for 4 p.m.