Ussery pitches complete-game shutout as Spain Park out-duels Chelsea in area play

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

CHELSEA – As storm clouds loomed in the distance, the Spain Park Jaguars and Chelsea Hornets battled it out on the softball diamond in a crucial area matchup.

In the end, lightning struck twice for Spain Park as it took the 2-0 win on Tuesday, April 2 at Chelsea High School.

Spain Park loaded up the bases in the top of the first inning off a pair of walks and a Charlee Bennett single, but Chelsea’s Sydney Carroll closed out the inning with a strikeout to take care of the scoring threat.

That proved to be the best chance for either team in the first half of the game as Carroll and the Jags’ Ella Ussery engaged in a pitcher’s duel.

After the Bennett single, neither team got a hit until Caroline Brown hit a two-out double in the bottom of the fourth, but Spain Park threw out the Hornets runner at home to preserve the shutout and get out of the inning unscathed.

Carroll pitched a one-two-three inning in the top of the fifth, but Ussery responded by striking out the side in the bottom of the frame.

That set the stage for the Jags to make their move in the top of the sixth.

Bennett drew a five-pitch walk to start the inning and stole second base in Teagan Huey’s at-bat.

Then, Huey hit an RBI double to bring Bennett home from second and open up a 1-0 lead for Spain Park.

Tatum Lasseter advanced Huey to third with a sacrifice bunt, and that set up Allie Whitaker to bring the Huey home off a groundout to make the score 2-0.

While Ussery hit a single right afterwards to keep the inning alive, a ground out on the next batter ended the inning and the scoring for the Jags.

Chelsea then took advantage of Spain Park miscues in the bottom of the inning to load up the bases off an error and two walks. That put pressure on Ussery with one out in the inning, but she earned a strikeout and forced a fly out to get out of the sixth.

Spain Park got one more runner in scoring position when pinch runner Reagan Roberts advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt after a lead-off walk.

The Hornets then tried an intentional walk to open up the infield options with two outs, and shortstop Brown grabbed a ground ball to put the runner out at first and then the scoring threat.

Chelsea’s Samantha Sutton hit a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to keep the scoring hope alive, but a fielder’s choice on the next at-bat led to an out at second base and the end of the game as the Jags took the 2-0 win.

Ussery pitched a complete-game shutout to take the win, earning eight strikeouts against two hits and four walks.

Carroll also went the distance for Chelsea and earned three strikeouts across seven innings.

Both teams will face another county opponent in their next outings as Spain Park hosts Thompson and Chelsea faces Vincent at home. Both of the games will take place on Thursday, April 4 with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch.