Troy shuts out Sand Mountain, Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Troy Dixie Belles team needed a pair of wins Thursday night to win a trip to the World Series in Dennison, Texas, and they did just that.

The Troy team blasted Demopolis 10-0 in the first game and defeated Sand Mountain 5-0 in the championship game to win the state tournament.

"We only had one bad inning the whole tournament," Troy coach Paul Gilbert said.

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That one bad inning came in a 9-1 loss to Sand Mountain to put Troy in the loser's bracket. However, Demopolis did Troy a favor by defeating Sand Mountain 14-4 Wednesday night to force a three-way tie for the semifinals. Demopolis and Troy had to play each other, while Sand Mountain got the bye into the finals.

But Troy was not fazed. Troy defeated both teams with some outstanding pitching. The team, representative of three of the four high schools in Pike County, made enough plays to win the games.

In the championship game, Troy's defense looked suspect early. Troy committed two errors in the first inning to put two runners aboard with one out.

But Autumn Welch shut down the Sand Mountain offense to keep them off the board.

Troy then received some help in the bottom of the inning. Eden Harris reached on a fielding error, and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Garner, who was playing with a sore hand.

Then things got interesting. Heather Snell grounded out to second to push Harris to third. However, the umpires ruled an illegal pitch, but did not make Harris return to second. Snell then made the most of her second chance and hit an RBI single to score Harris from third.

That run would have been plenty for Welch and relief pitcher Whitney Johnson, as they did not surrender a hit all night.

Troy added some insurance in the third inning, when Harris led off the inning with a single. Garner walked, and Snell drove an RBI double to right field to score Harris. Johnson singled with two outs to score Garner, and Troy held a 3-0 lead.

In the sixth inning, Troy added two more runs. Heather West led off with a walk, and Harris doubled. Welch hit an RBI single, and Eden Stamey followed suit to bump the lead to 5-0.

The lead was never in doubt, as Welch and Johnson retired the final 14 batters in a row. Johnson retired all 12 batters she faced after coming into the game in the fourth inning. Welch made the final out on a foul pop-up at first base, and the girls and coaches started celebrating. Stamey rushed out to the centerfield wall from her position in centerfield and grabbed the state flag. The girls then ran around the field with the flag, celebrating their championship.