District champs: Troy Ponytails use strong pitching and defense to win championship in Jack

Published 9:22 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It went deep into the night, but it was well worth it for the Troy Ponytails when they knocked off Greenville 2-0 on Tuesday night to claim the District 6 West championship.

Troy beat Zion Chapel earlier in the evening 23-3. Thanks to a rain delay early in the game, Troy and Greenville didn’t start game two until after 9:30.

Thanks to strong play in the pitching circle and in the field, two runs was all Troy needed to claim the win.

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“It felt awesome,” said head coach Jonathan Earles. “As a coach, I have never done this. To go out there and watch those girls play, that championship game was probably one of the best games I have watched in my life.”

Defense and pitching, according to Earles, played a factor in Troy’s success all tournament long. In their four wins in Jack, the Troy Ponytails allowed a grand total of just four runs. In their win over Greenville in the championship, Troy pitched to just three batters over the minimum in the sixth inning contest. There were no walks and the pitchers struck out four batters, forcing Greenville to put the ball into play.

“Our defense just played,” Earles said. “They did what they could. We knew they can do it and they did it. It was a complete team effort. When you only have four strikeouts in six innings, that means your defense has to play. They just made some plays.”

Troy was not just able to do it, but they were forced to do it under less than ideal situations – late at night and in the rain.

“It’s indescribable,” Earles said. “It really was impressive. We had one error and we ended up picking that runner off. Greenville was doing the same thing we were doing.”

Troy didn’t score their two runs until the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs. Madison Allen singled and stole second. She came around to score on a Mikalah Griffin double. Molly Garrett singled to score Griffin to give Troy the only runs they would need.

Troy fell to Greenville in their only loss of the tournament on Saturday night by a score of 7-3. Earles credited the loss to nerves. Earles felt his players looked loose on the field on Tuesday night.

“I honestly think that our pitcher that night had the jitters,” Earles said. “We knew that Greenville was the team to beat. They threw their ace that night. She was a little lefty and it was hard to hit her. We couldn’t pick up the ball very well. Honestly, after that loss, the girls realized that it was time to play ball. Sometimes a loss is good for you.”

There won’t be much time for the Troy Ponytails to rest. They will begin their quest for a state title beginning next Friday in Eufaula. They will be hitting the practice field again this weekend before the fourth of July holiday.

“The quick turnaround, I think it’s good,” Earles said. “It’s still fresh in their mind. I watched the girls and they were just so excited last night. It was a complete team effort. We need to hit the ball better. We struggled with the left-handed pitcher. We just have to learn to hit the ball better. I think our defense is solid if we can put some more runs on the board.”

Along with Earles, the Ponytails are coached by Terry Garrett and Jimmy Sellers. The players on the district champion Troy Ponytails are Madison Allen, Molly Garrett, Mikalah Griffin, Alyssa Hiersche, Auriel Moultry, Maison Picton, Alyssa Sellers, Tera Walker, Jaiden Ward, Zoe Warren, Mary Haden West and Kylan Wilkerson.