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Two explosive innings in Game 3 ended a wild opening playoff match in the 2010 MHSAA Class 4A playoffs. Amory’s explosion was a little louder and just enough to end New Albany’s season.
Over nearly 5 1/2 hours, the Lady Panthers won the best-of-three playoff opener 5-1 in Game 1, lost 6-5 in nine innings in Game 2 and won Game 3 13-8.
"We knew the odds were against us," New Albany coach Shane Sanderson said. "Amory is incredibly tough at home. That's what sad about having to play two out of three (in one place)."
In the third inning of Game 2, Bailey Oswalt’s two-run doubled started it and Amory got consecutive RBI singles from Taylor Brasfield, Harley Smith, Bailey Boyd, Ashley Camp and Halee Hunter to take a 10-2 lead.
New Albany (15-12) scored six in the fourth, three on Brooke Sides’ bases loaded triple, but that’s as close as New Albany got. Csrrie Spenser, Shannon Goode and Jalana Cameron all had RBI singles in the inning.
“They dug deep that inning,” Sanderson said. “We’re young and it’s hard to end like this, but we can’t wait for fastpitch.”
An early Amory run came on a play at the plate as Amory’s Paige Earnest collided with Amber Mirfield. Sanderson argued the contact but the run scored for a 2-1 lead.
New Albany also had a controversial out at first during the big inning that could have pulled the Lady Bulldogs within a run.
“I’ve been coaching a long time and I’m not one to complain about officials but these guys were way off tonight,” Sanderson said. “It took some momentum. They blew a rule call and Amory is a great team and noticed blood in the water. They knew they got an opportunity and they jumped on it. The momentum switch is so huge.”
New Albany leadoff hitter Goode gave Amory fits all night. She was 4 for 8 in the series with a pair of walks.
She made sure everyone got home just a bit later in Game 2. With Amory (21-7) an out away from a sweep in a 5-4 Game 2 win, Goode lined a hit to right that Amory fielder Kerina Harris tried to scoop. The ball ran to the wall and Goode scored the tying run.
After blowing a bases loaded opportunity when Amory turned a double play in the bottom of the eighth, Lauren Cavender and Kayla Pavlick reached on consecutive singles in the ninth and Goode’s single scored pinch runner Avaria Foote for the win.
“We’ve come back so many times late that they know until he says ballbame, it’s not over,” Sanderson said.
New Albany had held Amory scoreless in the top of the ninth, stranding Harris at third base when Cavender got Brasfield to line out.
Early on, Amory took a 3-0 lead in the first on Harris’ two-run single and pitcher Kelcie Oswalt’s sac fly, but New Albany tied it in the bottom of the inning on Mallory Beaty’s two-run double and Ellen Tarrant’s infield hit.
New Albany took a 4-3 lead in the fourth on Mirfield’s single that scored Mallory Beaty. Amory went ahead 5-4 in the sixth on Bailey Boyd’s single and New Albany error. Ashley Camp’s hard hit infield single scored Victoria Hood for a lead.
Amory won Game 1 after falling behind 1-0. Cameron’s fielder’s choice scored leadoff hitter Goode who reached on Amory’s only error.
The Lady Panthers responded with two runs in the second on two-out RBI singles from Taylor Brasfield and Harley Smith. Amory tacked on two more on two more two-out hits in the fifth from Ashley Camp and Halee Hunter.
Amory’s sixth inning insurance run came with two outs as well, a single from Victoria Hood that scored Bailey Oswalt for a 5-1 lead.
New Albany was held to five hits. Amory had nine, a double and a single from Smith.
New Albany had its chances, stranding back-to-back single from Cavender and Pavlick with a fifth inning popup. Down 4-1 in the sixth, the Lady Bulldogs stranded two more baserunners.
"We've got to be consistent," Amory coach Chris Pace said. "In the first game, we hit when we had to and made the defensive plays. We came out in the second game, put three up and thought it was won. That's exactly what happened.
-Story by Brandon Speck, Monroe County Journal