East Montgomery bests Belles in Midland City
For the first time this tournament season, the Troy Dixie Belles have tasted the bitterness of defeat.
In the first round of the state tournament in Midland City, the Belles took on East Montgomery, who had defeated Gilberttown earlier in the day.
This was Troy’s first game in two weeks and the team was unable to pick up where it left off, as it fell 8-6.
“We fell apart,” Troy head coach Buddy Mehaffey said after the game.
“They got up on us and we were unable to do anything about it – hopefully, this is an eye-opener for everyone.”
There were almost two different games within in Saturday’s game.
Troy started the game off dominate both at the plate and in the pitcher’s circle.
As she has for most of Troy’s games this summer, pitcher Becca Hartley started things off for Troy and took care of East Montgomery allowing just one hit in the first three innings, while striking out three and walking one.
At the plate, second baseman Hannah Fountain led the bottom half of the first inning off with a home run, giving Troy a 1-0 lead.
In very next inning for Troy, Victoria Outlaw sent a pitch to left field to give the Belles a 2-0 lead.
But that would be the last time the team would be in control of the lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, Hartley was pulled for Kristen Finlayson and that’s when East Montgomery made their move.
The first four batters Finlayson faced reached base thanks to walks, hits and errors and all came around to eventually score and in the process, take the lead away from Troy.
“It was one of those things where I had to decide to either leave Becca in (the game) and burn her out or take her out of the game and save her for (Sunday),” Mehaffey said.
“But I took her out and they had a big inning.”
Finlayson would settle down and keep East Montgomery at just runs for the following inning.
But while the visiting team was finding success, the home team was struggling.
East Montgomery pitchers held Troy to just two runs and five hits through six innings, including at one point, retiring 13 consecutive batters.
Coming in in relief for Finlayson was her sister, Stephanie, however, like it did against Kristen, East Montgomery was able to put four runs on the scoreboard to give East Montgomery an 8-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
But Troy would prove to still have some life left.
Shelby Hughes led the inning off with a single up the middle and Fountain followed with a single of her own.
After Amberlyn Baker would advance both runners and Madison Mehaffey would bring both to the plate after reaching first base on an East Montgomery error.
Hartley would continue the inning for Troy with a single, and would later help Mehaffey score when she stole second base to cut the score to 8-5.
After a Rachel Senn walk, Olivia Hudson came to plate representing the winning run.
Hudson would hit a sacrifice fly to bring Hartley home, but Senn was caught trying to advance to third and with the out, the game came to a close.
“To see the girls fight to the end like they did was great and I was proud of them for it but we can not wait that long to score runs at this part in the summer,” the coach said.
Mehaffey said there were a number of things the team had to work on if it wants to keep its dreams of winning a World Series alive.
“We have got to hit the ball like I know we are capable of hitting the ball.
“And we have got to be more solid in the field – errors really hurt us (Saturday evening),” he said.
Troy will look to redeem itself Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Midland City.