By Bryan Davis
For most of Hebron Christian’s Lady Eagles, Saturday’s visit to Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland was their first. At least it was their first in uniform.
Hebron made its first appearance ever in the softball state tournament on Saturday, and much like their trip to North State last week, they distinguished themselves immediately with a 4-2 win over Hiedelberg.
The Lady Eagles would fall in their next match, a 12-2 defeat at the hands of Silva Bay, but they would rally to stay in the tournament with a 5-4 win over Union Christian.
That set the table for Monday’s action that would determine the state champion.
Yesterday the girls were 1-1 in two games, but it was not enough to stay in.
They defeated Franklin 15-7 in game one, but fell to Sylva Bay 8-1 to finish out the 2010 season with a third place trophy.
Chloe Tapley pitched four innings in the game against Franklin, and after the Lady Eagles got a large enough lead, Jessica Flemming took over for the final inning.
The next game saw Sylva Bay chip away at Chloe Tapley and Flemming until they amassed a seven-run lead to put it away.
“I would have like to have had that championship, but where we are is really nice,” said Hebron head coach Cass Tapley.
In the Eagles’ first game on Saturday, they jumped on the board in the second inning with three runs. The fourth run was added in the fourth.
Two runs in the sixth by Hiedelberg did not rattle starter Chole Tapley, who finished with seven strong innings, striking out 18 batters.
At the plate, Alaina Hill had two hits in three at-bats, as did Beverly Blake, who scored a run.
Jessica Flemming had a hit and two runs. Hillary Arnold scored one run in the game.
“I thought we were very slow with the bat, but that isn’t unusual for a first game,” said Hebron head coach Cass Tapley. “We got the hits we needed to win, and Chloe shut them down pretty well.’
The next game was Hebron’s only loss on Saturday, and that was the Sylva Bay Game.
“We started out well and were up 1-0 until the third, when Sylva Bay took a 3-2 lead,” Tapley said. “I still felt good that we were going to sore few more runs, but in the fourth, things just fell apart.”
Sylva Bay hit the ball well and put up an eight-run fourth to put it away.
Hill had two hits in the game, including a triple and two runs. Chloe Tapley had a hit, and Magen Tapley had a double and an RBI in the game.
Cathryn Moore had a pair of hits, including a double.
The next game was a redemption match for Hebron, as they took care of Union Christian by one run.
Tori Nichols got the run scoring started in the second inning with a single, followed by a walk to Arnold. Hill was kind enough to follow that with a two-run triple, and she later scored the third run on a pass ball.
Union was able to climb back into the contest in the third scoring three runs to take a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Brittany Ousley led things off with a hit to right field. Hill would reach on an error, and she would be followed by Moore who delivered a clutch double to put Hebron in front 5-4, permanently.
Flemming came into the game in the fourth to relieve Tapley, who finished with 4.2 innings pitched. Flemming pitched 1.1 innings.
“Jessica giving us that last inning and a third was huge,” Tapley said. “Chloe had been completely out of gas for quite a while, but as has been the case all year, another senior stepped up, this time in the circle and at the plate.”
That win gave Hebron life in the state playoffs.
“I can’t say enough about this win,” Tapley said. “We were playing a tough team after being at the field for some 12 hours and we were beat up. We are putting on the bandages and ice packs.”
At the plate, Moore had the double and two RBI. Nichols had a hit and one run. Ousley finished with a hit, as did Arnold.
Magen Tapley had been injured in the first game, after being hit in the mouth with a pitch, but she returned to play the final two games of the series, pushing it to Monday.