By R. Alan Richardson
Highlights, controversy surround Monroe series
In a series that saw Katee Finney throw a no-hitter in game one, a controversial ruling in game two that helped decide the win, and a hitting clinic in game three by Alissa Webb and Madison Henry, the Monroe series win was one you didn’t want to miss. On top of all that, the win catapulted Morgan into the State Tournament with at least a fourth place finish in the 8-AAA Tournament. The Lady Dogs will now face Jackson County in a two-of-three series that started this past Tuesday. Details were unavailable at press time, but will be reported on next week.
With the home field advantage in their favor, Morgan took on the Lady Hurricanes in game one with Finney in the circle. She posted possibly the finest outing of her career striking out six, walking three (two in the first inning), and allowing zero hits for the no-hitter. The defense behind her was superb with only one error. Finney’s biggest challenge came in the first inning of the 4-0 win when runners reached second and third after her two walks and a passed ball put them there. She responded by striking out the next two batters to end the inning. Only one other base runner reached second over the next six innings.
Morgan got a run in the first when Henry reached base on a rarely seen play. She struck out, but she beat the throw to first on a passed ball. She stole second and scored on a double by Sadie Worth later in the inning to take a 2-0 lead. The Lady Dogs struck again in the fourth when Mary Trent Chandler singled. Karlie Lane stole second as her pinch runner and moved to third on a wild pitch. Dakota Cepuran got hit by a pitch and purposely got caught in a rundown between first and second while Lane scored from third on some nice base running.
Callaway singled to get things started in the fifth inning as MOCO tacked on two more insurance runs. She stole second, moved to third on a passed ball, and singled on a squeeze bunt by Webb. Reign Williams came up with a big two-out single to score Webb for the final two runs of the win.
Morgan was the visitor in game two and wasted no time getting on the board. Callaway started off the game with a single from her leadoff spot and reached second on a throwing error. Henry doubled in Callaway and came across the plate after R. Williams singled to grab the early 2-0 lead. Monroe answered with two runs of their own that were both unearned off Finney who again was the starting pitcher. The damage could have been worse had it not been for defensive gems turned in by Williams and Webb. Williams made a diving catch near the dugout on a foul ball and Webb went deep in the hole for the second out to stop the bleeding. It was then 2-2.
Monroe added two more runs in the second inning to take a 4-2 lead into the third. This is where the controversy started. With one out, Henry doubled and was followed up with back-to-back errors to Sadie Worth and Williams to make it 4-3. That’s when Chandler came to the plate and singled to drive in two more runs. Or so it seemed. The Monroe bench appealed the play saying that Chandler was not reported back into the game after a pinch runner took her place. The umpires deemed that she had not been reported back and called her out, therefore erasing the two runs from the scoreboard.
A little clarification may be necessary at this point. Substitution rules differ quite dramatically from baseball. There are players called designated players, flex players, courtesy runners, and pinch runners. (This sportswriter certainly does not know all the nuances of these rules.) There are different situations that govern when a player has to report back into the game. In this case, the umpires ruled that she was out. However, according to those that know the rules much better and were closer to the ruling, the umpires made a mistake. It should have been a warning, but the damage had been done. Morgan appealed the ruling, but to no avail. Whatever the situation, the umpiring crew was not invited back to the third game festivities, so something was amiss. Either way, the final score showed the Dogs taking the 4-3 loss and it was on to the rubber match and game three on Monday.
Let’s just say this. The Lady Dogs showed up and showed out for this one. The atmosphere in the dugout was electric and the girls had their game faces on for this one. So did the coaches.
The visiting Canes got a run in the top of the first and that was all she wrote. Had it not been for two hit batsmen and a walk, Finney would have gotten her second shutout of the series. Henry got things rolling with a towering homerun to left field to tie the game at one before Worth doubled, Chandler singled for an RBI, and Williams got another on a sac bunt to take the 3-1 advantage.
The girls got two more in the second. Callaway walked and stole second to move into scoring position. She jogged across the plate after Webb hit a bullet to left field that cleared the fence for the round tripper and two RBI’s for the 5-1 lead.
In the fourth McKenna Camp singled up the middle to start another rally. Mackenzie Torbush substituted back into the game, stole second, and scored on a Callaway single. This brought Webb back to the plate who hit a screamer to right field that was too hot to handle. When the dust cleared, Callaway was over the plate and Webb ended up at third with two more RBI’s. Henry came up again. They decided to pitch to her (big mistake). She ripped her second homerun of the evening to left field and that was the final 9-1. All-in-all it was a great series for the Lady Dogs. Now it’s on to tournament play!
Coach Jason McBay talked about the series and the final game, “Tonight I challenged my girls with a simple statement. ‘After it’s all said and done I want to see smiles on all three of our seniors’ faces. No tears tonight.’ I was very proud of these girls for playing for their teammates. This series was a great example of the importance of staying in the moment and controlling what you can control.”