Thompson moves to 2-0 in area with one-run win at Oak Mountain
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – A three-run fifth inning ended up being the difference in a 4-3 area road victory over Oak Mountain for the Thompson Warriors on Wednesday, March 20, to improve to 17-1 on the season and 2-0 in area play.
The Warriors, who have now won 10 consecutive games, also beat Hoover 5-4 on Wednesday, March 13, to make both of their area victories by one run. But at 17-1 overall and 2-0 in area play, the win loss column is what matters, as Thompson has proven itself in the clutch to take control of Class 7A Area 5 nearing the final stretch of the season.
Thompson’s three-run fifth inning was close to being answered in the bottom half of the frame when Oak Mountain (5-7, 1-1) posted two runs of its own on a two-run bomb over the left field wall. Madison Holtzapfel, however, was able to get out of the challenging inning in the circle with a strikeout and fly out to preserve a 4-3 lead.
Then, an inning later, the play of the game was made from Thompson right fielder Ella Pate.
With pinch runner Catherine Fortner in scoring position for the Eagles after stealing second, Dawn Autry stepped to the plate looking for a two-out hit to tie the game.
A pitch after Fortner stole second, Autry hit a line drive to right field that got down for a single and looked like it would allow Fortner to come home for the game-tying run.
As Fortner started to round third, Pate scooped the ball off the grass and fired it home with all of her strength. The ball not only had plenty of speed to beat Fortner to the plate, but was on the money as she nailed out the would-be tying run to preserve the 4-3 advantage heading to the final inning.
After Holtzapfel’s strong first six innings, Eleanor DeBlock came in to relieve her in the bottom of the seventh to close the game out.
She did her job with ease, as Oak Mountain went down in order with a line out, fly out and ground out, as the Warriors pulled off the thrilling 4-3 victory.
Through the first two innings of the game, both teams showed they could match one another. Thompson put runners on first and second in the first two innings with four singles, while Oak Mountain also put runners on first and second thanks to two errors and two walks.
Neither team was able to capitalize on the chances in either inning, but in the third inning the scoring column finally saw some life.
It started in the top half of the inning. With two down in the frame, Mikayla Touhey stepped to the plate and quickly found herself in a full count.
On the sixth pitch of the at bat, however, she finally saw the exact pitch she wanted and drove a deep fly ball over the left-field wall for a solo homer to put Thompson up 1-0.
In the bottom of the third, Autry and Abi Brown teamed up to do what good players do—answer.
Autry led the inning off with a single, before advancing to third after stealing second and a sac bunt from Riley Sullivan. Then, Brown took two pitches to hit a single to right field to bring Autry home and tie the game 1-1 through three innings.
After both teams went down in order for the first time in the game during the fourth inning, they more than made up for it in the fifth.
The Warriors stepped to the plate and were aggressive early in the inning with the first three batters reaching base with singles in the first two pitches of their respective at bat.
Pate singled on the first pitch she saw, before Kindall DeRamus and Lauren Haskins singled on the second pitch they saw.
Haskins’ single during the third at bat also brought home Pate to break the tie and put Thompson on top 2-1.
During Kennedy Foote’s at bat, DeRamus scored on an error thanks to a bad throw on a steal attempt, while Haskins advanced all the way to the third on the same play. Later in the at bat, Haskins was able to score on a wild pitch to put the Warriors on top 4-1.
Oak Mountain again looked to answer in the bottom half of the inning. That answer came when Sullivan hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall three batters into the inning to cut the deficit to one run.
That, however, was followed by a strikeout to put two down in the inning. The Eagles then put two more runners on base to actually put the go-ahead run aboard, but a fly out to Pate then ended the threat abruptly.
Oak Mountain got a good opportunity in the sixth, but the game-saving play by Pate ended up being key in Thompson holding on for the win.
In the circle, Holtzapfel tossed six innings and allowed five hits, three runs and five walks. She also struck out four in the winning effort. Lacy Marty got the start for Oak Mountain and went the distance allowing eight hits and four runs, while striking out four.
Touhey was the only player with multiple hits in the game, and had Thompson’s only RBI after a 2-for-3 game with one RBI and one run scored. Six others picked up hits for the Warriors.
Oak Mountain was led by Autry at the plate after going 3-for-4 with two runs. Sullivan led the team with two RBIs thanks to a 1-for-3 game at the plate, while Brown added an RBI after going 1-for-4.
Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.