CLEVELAND - Running low on fumes and facing elimination, Hebron Christian’s run at a state softball title came to an end Saturday afternoon after giving up the lone run in a 1-0 loss to Deer Creek Academy in the MAIS Class A North state playoffs.
With the score tied at 0-0 through the seventh inning, Chloe Tapley gave up a single up the middle, in her 19th inning of work as Hebron failed to capitalize on several scoring chances with runners on the bases in the first and fifth innings.
Although the loss was tough to swallow for the Lady Eagles 15-8, head coach Cass Tapley said the season as a whole, exceeded their expectations.
“When it began I knew most of our games would be 2-3 run games either way and they were,” he said. “I knew our hitting wouldn’t be our strong point but it was probably a little better than I thought. “
With several young faces on the team this season, the fielding proved to be their weakest link.
“I did think that our fielding would even better than last year but it proved to be our weak spot and our hitting just wasn’t strong enough to overcome that at times,” he said. “A few plays here and there and we are
District Champions and headed to State. Our young players grew up over the season and finished strong. “
Hebron had just three hits against Deer Creek in the loss. Chloe Tapley struck out 12 in the loss and gave up just five hits.
The Lady Eagles, who finished send in the district this season, drew reining state champion Bayou Academy in the first round and needed to make a statement, but fell behind early and would later lose 3-2 in the opening contest.
The Lady Colts grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but HCS rallied in the second on an RBI single by Brynn Latham after Beverly Blake got on base after getting hit by a pitch.
The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Bayou plated two runs on a throwing error of a potential double play and grabbed a 3-1 lead.
The Lady Eagles cut the deficit on their next at bat, when Blake who was hit by a pitch once again, scored on a single by Brooke Griffin.
“It was a good fight against the No,1 ranked team on their home field and a game we were in until the last out,” Cass Tapley said. “ Our young players really stepped up though most of our bats were a lot more quiet than they should have been.” He added that Chloe Tapley had one of her best outings of the season after keeping Bayou off balance all game. She finished with 10 strikeouts and gave up just two hits.
Latham had the best game the plate with a pair of hits and RBI to lead the offensive production.
After going toe-to-toe with Class A’s best team, Hebron bounced back in game two with a comfortable 11-0 shutout over Lee Academy (Ark.)
Hebron slapped 12 hits in the ball game led by Blake who was just one hit from the cycle after going 3-for-4 with a triple and a double and knocking in three RBI. Alaina Hill, Tori Nichols and Griffin all had least of a pair of hits in the victory. Chloe Tapley, who finished with
11 strikeouts, finished with 33 on the day.