Troy Belles remain unbeaten

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Sports Editor

Troy spotted Elba a 1-0 lead in the first inning then roared back to win the ball game 9-4 in second round action of the Dixie Belles Sub-District Tournament on Monday night.

The game was tied at 2-2 when Troy grabbed the lead for good on Whitney Johnson’s RBI single in the top of the third.

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Troy added two more runs in the fourth, one run in the sixth and three more runners came home in the Rebels’ final at bat.

Troy head coach Robin Sullivan said it was all about timing for his team. Melanie Murlaz, who went the distance for Elba, did a good job of keeping Troy off the bases early.

"We could not hit the ball as good as we could," said Sullivan. "We played well. I don’t know of any mistakes that we made. Our girls did what they had to do and they won."

Troy took advantage of three Elba errors in the top of the fourth to bring runners home. Eden Harris singled in a run and Mandy Sullivan followed with a leg single. Both Harris and Sullivan would come home in the inning when Elba couldn’t cleanly field hits by Troy’s Heather Snell and Whitney Merritt.

Troy went up 6-2 at that point and after Elba scored a run in the sixth, the Rebels put the game out of reach with a three-run seventh inning.

Johnson sent home Merritt with a double RBI, Stamey singled in a runner and Ashley Simmons drove home Troy’s final run of the game.

Sullivan used the same pitching rotation as he did during Saturday night’s 10-0 win over Opp with Johnson earning the starting nod on Monday. Heather West came in to pitch the middle three innings with Merritt closing for Troy.

"That’s what I did in the first game and it worked, so I said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it," said Sullivan. "They all played well. We had some key hits when we needed them and our girls worked hard on the bases."

After Murlaz forced Troy to go three and out, Becky Stinson gave Elba the initial lead of the game with a run-scoring double off Johnson.

Troy countered, though, as Johnson, facing two outs, singled into left field. Amanda Hayes reached on error and Mary Katherine Green knocked both runners home with a rip up the gut of the Elba infield.

Jennifer Hilyer tied the game for Elba with a force RBI in the second.

Johnson struck out three batters in her two innings on the mound, while giving up one hit and walking two Elba batters. West sat Elba down in order in the third and fourth innings, while allowing Stephanie Baxley to reach on a single in the fifth. West gave up two hits and struck out four batters for Troy.

Merritt had the toughest going of the three. She walked five batters in the final two innings, giving up two hits. Elba got one run home in the sixth, that coming on a force RBI.

Merritt walked two batters in the seventh, but buckled down to induce Stinson into a ground out, ending the game.

Troy moves on to face Andalusia tonight at 8 p.m.

"I watched them a little bit on Saturday," Sullivan said about Andalusia. "They look real solid to me on defense. They have a few girls that look like they can hit the ball well so we’re going to have to play our best."

Sullivan said a similar effort like the one Troy had against Elba would be needed.

"Elba gave us all we could handle," he said. "I was worried all night long. They jumped out on us and did well. My hat’s off to them."