CENTRE – Cherokee County High School senior pitcher Alana Loyd has been struggling of late at the plate with the outside pitches.
On Friday night in the Cherokee County Softball Tournament against Spring Garden, it was an outside pitch she drilled to right center field in the bottom of the ninth inning to drive in the winning run in a thrilling 3-2 Lady Warrior victory.
The win secured a spot in Saturday’s county title game against Sand Rock at 10:30 a.m.
“It feels good that I actually hit an outside pitch,” Loyd said. “I’ve been rolling over them, but I drove it to right field. I was like ‘Oh my God. I didn’t screw it up.'”
Loyd’s base hit scored Brylie McDaniel from third base. McDaniel was inserted at second for the international tie-breaker rule. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lanie Williams.
“I was just thinking something to right field so she could score, whether it was pop up or a ground ball. We just needed to score a run,” Loyd said.
“We had Lanie up to bat, and I said ‘Lanie, drop this bunt down,'” Cherokee County coach Brad Weaver said. “She looked at me and said ‘Really Coach?’ I said ‘Yes ma’am, let’s do it.’ She dropped it down, and I knew Alana was coming behind her. She had a hot stick all night, and I felt our odds were really good when Alana came up. She come through for us.”
In more ways than one.
Loyd also earned the win in the circle for the Lady Warriors.
“She missed her spot maybe twice, and one of them hurt us, but other than that, she pitched a heck of a game,” Weaver said. “She’s a great pitcher with a lot of spin, a lot of velocity. When she’s on, she’s on. Tonight was one of those nights. She’s hard to hit when she’s on.”
Loyd said Spring Garden was a challenge because they are “a good-hitting team.”
“You’ve got to make sure it (the ball) spins,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you throw. It’s more about how you spin the ball, make sure it’s cutting away from the bat.
“Most of my runs have come off of home runs. If you miss your spot, it’s going to be a dinger. That was their first run. It was 1-0 for a long time there until we finally got on it.”
The Lady Warriors tied things at a run apiece in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Spring Garden took the lead in the top of the eighth when Avery Steward doubled down the left field line to drive in Madison Brown with one out. Loyd retired the next two Lady Panther hitters on pop outs to end the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Lady Warriors had Karlee Perry at second. She advanced to third base on a passed ball and scored on a ground out to second by Carson Coley to tie the game at 2.
Spring Garden pitcher Abbey Steward retired the next two Lady Warriors to send the game to the ninth.
Loyd retired the Lady Panthers in order in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for her own heroics.
“That’s what I love about this team. We don’t give up,” Loyd said. “If we get down, we come back. We got down on Gaylesville too (on Friday) and we came back in that one.”
Sand Rock 7, Cedar Bluff 5 (8 innings)
CENTRE – Katelyn St. Clair’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning provided the winning runs to rally Sand Rock for a 7-5 victory over Cedar Bluff in the Cherokee County Softball Tournament on Friday night.
St. Clair went 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Jadyn Foster was 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs. Lindsey Chambers had a pair of hits. EllaGrace Hood doubled and drove in a run. Maggie Tinsley and Lily Clanton both contributed a hit. Maggie Hester walked and scored a run.
Foster picked up the win in the circle for the Lady Wildcats. She went the distance, giving up two earned runs on six hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts.
Cedar Bluff built a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning before Sand Rock began to chip away. Mary Sausville doubled and drove in a run for the Lady Tigers. Reece Patterson posted a hit and scored two runs. Mattie Payne added a hit, a run and a RBI. Harlie Nelson and Haley Allen both contributed a hit and a run. Jordyn Walker finished with a hit.
Walker also suffered the loss. She worked 7 2/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.
Cherokee County 6, Gaylesville 3
CENTRE – The Cherokee County Lady Warriors scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to help them pull away from the Gaylesville Lady Trojans 6-3 in the opening game of the Cherokee County Softball Tournament on Friday.
Gaylesville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a leadoff homer by Sierra Holbrook. The Lady Warriors manufactured a run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.
The Lady Trojans went back ahead 2-1 on a run-scoring single by pitcher Malaya Shireman in the top of third, but Cherokee County countered again with a run on an inside-the-park home run by nine-hole batter Carson Coley.
The Lady Warriors took the lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Pitcher Grayson Tucker singled to right to lead off the inning. Pinch runner Audrey Haygood later scored on a passed ball to put Cherokee County in front 3-2.
Tucker added a RBI-single to left an inning later as part of a three-run fifth to help push the Lady Warriors out to a 6-2 advantage.
Tucker and Coley led the Lady Warriors at the plate with a pair of hits apiece. McKinley Rouss singled and walked. Abby Lea walked twice and Reachel Russell was hit by a pitch twice.
Shireman homered to right center in the top of the sixth for the final.
Tucker earned the win in the circle after scattering four hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts. Shireman suffered the loss. She also led the Lady Trojans at the plate by going 2-for-3. Emma Givens added a hit and walked twice.