Spain Park wins four straight at Gulf Coast Classic to reach Round of 16

Published 12:06 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

GULF SHORES – The Spain Park Jaguars used a strong start at the Gulf Coast Classic III to reach the Round of 16 as they beat the Olentangy Berlin Bears, Community Viqueens and Cocke County Lady Red on Monday, March 25 before topping the West Ridge Wolves in bracket play on Wednesday, March 27.

Their 4-1 record at the tournament let them walk away from the Gulf Shores Sportsplex with a 16-9 record on the season.

In the first game of pool play against Olentangy Berlin, Teagan Huey came up with a two-out RBI double in the top of the first to give the Jags an early 1-0 lead.

After a double play to end the first inning on defense, a Tatum Lasseter double and Jaley Young single put runners on the corners to start the inning.

While Spain Park got out on the next two plays, including trying to advance to home, Maggie Daniel hit an RBI double to bring both runners home and extend the lead to 3-0.

However, an error and a hit batter on back-to-back plays put the Bears in business.

Olentangy Berlin hit an RBI triple to clear the bases and pull within one before tying the game at 3-3 on the next batter with an RBI single.

After the Jags got the next three batters out to end the inning, they quickly retook the lead after Charlee Bennett hit a solo home run on the second pitch of the third inning.

Just like in the second inning, the Bears answered the Spain Park offense and tied the game, this time off a two-out solo home run to make the score 4-4 after three innings.

Both teams got out of the fifth while only facing the minimum, but a one-out single and error in the top of the fifth put two runners on for the Jags.

Looking for a spark, Spain Park put in Maxie Provost as a pinch hitter, and she came up with a two-run double for the go-ahead runs. That gave the Jags the 6-4 win after they finished the fifth unscathed.

Spain Park used that offensive momentum to take an early lead over Community in the next game, and it never looked back from there.

A Daniel double followed by a walk and a hit by pitch loaded up the bases with no outs in the bottom of the third. Then, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly put the first two runs on the board for the Jags. Lasseter doubled the lead on the next at-bat with a two-run single.

After the Viqueens allowed the Jags to load up the bases again, Daniel was hit by a pitch to put Spain Park up 5-0 at the end of the first inning.

A run off an error and another Lasseter RBI single in the second inning took the lead to seven runs.

While Community got on the scoreboard with a two-run double in the top of the third, those would be the only two runs they would score.

The Jags finished off the scoring in the bottom of the third off an RBI double by Daniel, a two-run single by Huey and Lasseter’s third RBI single of the day to make the final score 11-2.

Lasseter and Daniel were both perfect at the plate, with Lasseter finishing 3-3 with four RBIs and one run and Daniel going 2-2 with two RBIs and two runs.

Ella Ussery took the win with six strikeouts in three innings, allowing just two runs, two hits and two walks in the process.

After a lopsided game, Spain Park got a tougher test from Cocke County in the final game of pool play.

The Lady Red allowed the Jags to fill up the bases with a Caroline Charles single and a pair of walks. Two batters later, Charles stole home to score and Bennett came home off the third passed ball of the inning.

Cocke County then cut into that two-run lead in the top of the second with a one-out RBI single. After holding the Jags hitless in the bottom of the second, it then used a hit batter and a single to eventually hit a two-out single and tie the game at 2-2 after the top of the third.

While both teams went three up, three down in their next turns at bat, Spain Park turned a leadoff walk into the go-ahead run thanks to a Lasseter sacrifice bunt, a Reagan Stewart fly out and a Klara Thompson RBI double.

Thompson’s extra-base hit sealed the game for the Jags as they took the 3-2 win to finish pool play with a perfect record.

Stewart took the win with three strikeouts in two shutout innings of relief.

Two days later, Spain Park got into another one-run game, this time against West Ridge to start out bracket play.

After being held without a baserunner in the first inning, the Jags made their first hit of the day count as Huey hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead.

However, West Ridge scored three runs in the top of the third to take a two-run lead. Back-to-back run-scoring errors led to an RBI single two batters later, and the Wolves quickly went from trailing 1-0 to leading 3-1.

Spain Park prevented the score line from becoming worse in the top of the fourth as they got the third out after allowing three straight two-out singles.

An inning later, Young reached base on a leadoff walk and Thompson hit a bunt single to put runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom of the fifth.

That brought Daniel to the plate, and the star senior hit a three-run home run to give the Jags a 4-3 lead for good.

From there, Spain Park advanced to the Round of 16 to face Hoover, but a five-run fourth inning meant the Jags could not get past their crosstown rivals, and they went on to lose 6-0.

Spain Park will return after spring break with a road trip to Chelsea on Tuesday, April 2 at 4:30 p.m.