Chelsea picks up one-run area win at Pelham

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

PELHAM – In a game that was dominated by pitching and defense, Karson Rich stole the spotlight in the top of the seventh with an RBI-single to right field that made the difference in a 2-1 road victory for the Chelsea Hornets in an important area matchup with the Pelham Panthers.

After Skylar Baker led off the inning with a single and Camryn Smith walked following a pop out from Brooke Burback, Rich stepped to the plate and found herself in a 3-1 hitter’s county. She took the fifth pitch of the at bat and hit a hard ground ball toward right field that allowed Baker to round third and come home for what became the game-winning run.

The win not only gave the Hornets (5-3) a 1-0 start to area play, but helped them snap a three game losing streak after starting the season 4-0.

For the most part, Tyler Erwin and Brianna Copeland were locked in a thrilling pitching battle throughout the game and that showed in the first three innings.

Each team put two base runners on in the first two innings, while going 1-2-3 in the third inning, before the first bit of action at the plate.

In the top of the fourth, Chelsea took advantage of a lead-off walk from Burback and an error to put the first two base runners of the inning aboard. After a strikeout, Meleah Craft singled on a line drive to left field to drive in the first run of the game.

Pelham, however, had a quick answer of its own thanks to back-to-back singles from Holly Helms and Copeland in the first two at bats of the bottom half of the inning.

A sacrifice bunt then moved both into scoring position, before a ground out Jaley Davis then drove in the game-tying run. Pelham’s damage was limited though, thanks to a strikeout from Erwin to escape the inning in a tie game.

Each team had chances over the next few innings, but Chelsea seemed to be getting more opportunities. It seemed like just a matter of time before the Hornets could get another run to cross the plate, and despite it not coming until the seventh, it eventually happened and gave them the 2-1 win.

Both pitchers did well enough to win the game, but Erwin walked away with the victory thanks to her complete-game effort. She struck out seven and allowed just two hits.

Copeland also went the distance and allowed just two runs and six hits with an impressive 12 strikeouts.

At the plate, Baker led the Hornets with a 2-for-4 game featuring one run scored. Burback, Craft, Rich and Erwin all had hits as well, with Rich’s being the difference maker.

Pelham’s only two hits came from Helms and Copeland.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.