Chelsea holds on for three one-run wins at Hoover Classic

Published 3:06 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The Chelsea Hornets left the Hoover Classic with a 3-1 record, but it didn’t come easy as the Hornets had to work for a trio of one-run wins across the two-day tournament.

Chelsea started the tournament with a 4-3 win over the Brookwood Panthers on Friday, April 19 before beating the Pike Road Patriots 5-4 and Tuscaloosa County Wildcats 7-6 on Saturday, April 20 at the Hoover Met Complex.

After a scoreless first inning in the tournament opener against Brookwood, the Hornets fell behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning off an RBI groundout after surrendering a lead-off walk.

Chelsea then made its move in the bottom of the third after a lead-off double from Allie Scott and a single from Madeline Kelley put runners on the corners.

Kelley then stole second base, and two batters later, Madeline Epperson drove home both runners with an RBI double to take a 2-1 lead.

That lead became 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when a one-out Emma Parmley single became a run after courtesy runner Lauren Hilyer stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball and came home off a Scott RBI single.

However, Brookwood surged back in the top of the fifth with an RBI single and RBI double to tie up the game at 3-3.

With the game hanging in the balance in the bottom of the sixth with one out, Parmley doubled for Chelsea to put a runner in scoring position, and after Claire Purkey hit a single, courtesy runner McKenna Harper beat out the throw at home to score the walk-off run and win 4-3.

While the Hornets were on the other end of a one-run game in a 5-4 loss to Bob Jones in the second game of the day, Chelsea bounced back with a pair of wins the next day.

The first two innings of the Hornets game against Pike Road came and went without a run, but the Patriots had a string of three straight scoring hits in the top of the third to open up a 3-0 lead.

Then, Caroline Brown and Epperson hit back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fourth to start the Chelsea rally.

Two batters later, Kaitlin Hopson cleared the bases with an RBI triple to cut the deficit to 3-2. After a walk put runners on the corners, Baylor McCluney singled on the next pitch to score Hopson and tie up the game.

Parmley followed that up with an RBI ground out that brought home Lauren Hilyer from third to finish off the four-run inning and put Chelsea up 4-3.

The Hornets then extended the lead in the bottom of the fifth with a piece of two-out hitting from Sydney Carroll. She hit an RBI single on the second pitch of the at-bat to score Scott and make the lead 5-3.

Pike Road got a bases-loaded walk to cut the deficit to one, but it couldn’t add another run after that and Chelsea earned the 5-4 win.

The Hornets then had to rally once again for a victory over Tuscaloosa County.

The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a one-out RBI double that scored both base runners.

However, Chelsea quickly responded in the bottom half of the frame. After Brown hit a lead-off single, Epperson launched a two-run home run to right to tie up the game at 2-2.

While the next batter struck out, Hopson doubled to put herself in scoring position. Two batters later, McCluney singled to score Hopson from second and give her team a 3-2 lead.

Tuscaloosa County battled back in the top of the third and capitalized off a pair of walks to hit a one-out RBI double and score a go-ahead run ahead of an inning-ending double play.

That Wildcats lead became 5-3 thanks to a two-out double in the top of the fourth, but Chelsea mounted a response from there.

After a lead-off double by Scott, Epperson came up with an RBI single two batters later to cut the deficit to one run.

However, Tuscaloosa County restored its two-run lead in the top of the fifth to put the pressure back on the Hornets.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Samantha Sutton and Alaysha Crews hit back-to-back singles to set up Scott for an RBI double.

With the score now 6-5 Wildcats, Brown stepped up to the plate and delivered a single on the second pitch of her at-bat. Her hit drove home both runners and gave Chelsea the 7-6 walk-off win to cap off the tournament.

Epperson finished the game with three RBI in a 2-for-3 performance and Brown went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

The 18-16-3 Hornets will look to close the regular season on a high note when they battle Class 6A No. 1 Helena at home on Monday, April 22 at 5 p.m.