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Lady Tigers wrap up 2013 season with heads held high

The Lady Tiger softball team’s season has come to an end, but not without their heads held high and one win recorded in district play.  The ladies fought to the end, but a 9-2 loss to Trenton in the district semifinals last Thursday, Oct. 10, brought their season to a close.

According to Head Coach Don Roberts, the Tigers got to the semifinals by defeating Chillicothe the night before with a 10-5 win behind the pitching of Alexa Pelzer and the hitting of Claudia Malott.

“Pelzer pitched a complete game, giving up five runs and 10 hits with six strike-outs and four walks,” Roberts continued. “The win was Alexa’s 10th win of the year.  Malott led the Tigers at the plate with three hits and a base on balls.”

Scoring five runs in the first inning, the Lady Tigers were off to a hot start against the Hornets and never looked back while winning their first district game in several years.  Earning two hits in the game was Kaitlyn Gooding; Hailey Zeller, Pelzer and Carissa Davis each had two RBI’s with key base hits.

Thursday’s game against Trenton would be the last game in districts the ladies would play, losing 9-2.  “The Tigers played excellent defense, committing no errors with catcher Cara Zacny throwing out two runners attempting to steal.  In the semifinal game against Trenton, the Lady Tigers started the first inning with a single by Mikinzie Monthei, then Kaitlyn Gooding hit a booming two-run homer to give the Lady Tigers a 2-0 lead, but unfortunately that is all the scoring the ladies would do for the evening,” said Roberts.

Gooding started off on the mound for the Tigers and Roberts said she pitched effectively, keeping the game close until the sixth inning.  With two outs in the fifth the Tigers and a misplayed foul ball, which would have been the third out for the inning, a Trenton batter hit the next pitch for a two-run home run.  Roberts said the hit took the wind out of the Tigers’ sails.

“Trenton went on to score five runs in the sixth inning for the win,” he explained. “This advanced them to the district championship game, where they lost to Cameron 7-4.”

In the Tigers vs. Trenton game Monthei recorded two hits, as well as Zacny.  Zeller, Kelsi Hertzberg and Carissa Davis had one hit apiece.  Zacny, again, threw two runners out while they attempted to steal.  The 9-2 loss to Trenton brought the Lady Tigers’ season to a close with an 11-13 record.

“I feel that we got better as a team as the year went on, we worked hard on defense and when we played good defense we were able to compete and win games.  We started out slow, had a good middle of the season, then hit a little bit of a lull at the end, but ended with something we haven’t done for a while… a victory in district competition.  But that’s not what our goal is—our goal is to ultimately win a district and state championship,” said Roberts.

“I think we have taken great strides to get better. The players are working hard, the coaches are putting in the extra time to get the program to the level we want to be at.  We lost some games we should have won, particularly the Pleasant Hill games in which we had leads late in the game and couldn’t close them out, but that’s part of growing up and learning how to get the job done.

“I’m very proud of this team and our progress. I will miss the seniors who won’t be back next year, but this team has a lot of talent and players who are dedicated to playing softball.  The future looks bright for the Lady Tigers, with 10 players returning who either started all season or saw significant action on the varsity level and a good bunch of junior varsity players that will step up and help in the next year.”

The Lady Tigers will finalize their season with their annual end-of-the-year awards and recognition ceremony.  The date has not yet been set.

As for the junior varsity Lady Tiger team, the girls ended with an 8-5 season record and Roberts said the future looks bright for the softball program.  Leading the mound for JV was Adrianna Smith, who ended the season with a 7-5 record.  “Adrianna pitched well and led us all year,” said Roberts.  “She needs to work on her consistency throwing strikes and she will make an impact at the varsity level soon.”

Cherokee Ledford led the way at the plate for the JV ladies with a .593 batting average, earning her a starting spot on the varsity level halfway through the season.  Roberts said other players that played mainly JV were Paige Feemster, who batted .307 for the year and also saw some varsity action as a pinch runner; Katlyn Shroyer, who batted .538; Shelby Starkebaum, who batted .400; Maddie Mapes, who batted .177; and Adrianna Smith, who batted .456.

“The season had many exciting games which were decided in the late innings.  These players grew as a team and got better as the year went on,” Roberts continued. “Coach Tuck and Coach Snelling did an excellent job of getting these players ready for the season and ready to make an impact on the varsity level.  They hit the ball well, played defense effectively and ran the bases well.  Overall the coaching staff is very happy with the progress of the junior varsity players and team.”

By Jae Juarez •

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