MINT HILL, NC – The Lady Patriots played a very tight contest and battled a solid undefeated Pirates team in a hard-fought loss on Tuesday at home.
The first two innings were scoreless with neither team able to generate enough offense or timely hitting to put up any runs on the scoreboard. The visiting Pirates scored first in the top of the third frame to take an early 1-0 lead. However, with a runner on base in the bottom half of the third inning, Independence power hitter Maya Douglas smashed a two-run homer deep over the fence to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning with two outs, Douglas drove a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a solo home run to give the Patriots a 3-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Indy sophomore hurler Elizabeth Garbark was keeping the strong Pirate lineup in check, silencing their bats on some crafty pitching in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. She allowed baserunners and got herself into a jam in the fifth inning after getting two quick outs, but she was able to strand two runners when the hitter would hit a weak pop out to second base on a nice change-up, which fooled the batter.
In the sixth, the leadoff hitter drilled a line drive to the left-field down close to the foul line for a double. However, with two outs, a base hit and an excellent throw from the outfield caught the runner trying to score from second base. The runner was caught in a rundown and tagged out at home by a nice play made by third baseman Mallory Shaver, who tagged the runner trying to score diving for home plate.
In the faithful seventh inning, it appeared that Garbark was running out of gas. She loaded the bases with no outs and gave up two hits and two bases on balls forcing in a run to make the score 3-2. With no outs, catcher Kristen Kirby made a fine play on a diving catch of a foul ball. Then another pop out in the infield – maybe Indy was going to survive. However, on a faithful play, the next batter hit a spinning knuckle ground ball back to the mound, but it was bobbled by the pitcher, and the game was tied 3-3. The next batter smacked a single to left field, scoring a run and giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
The pitching coach went out to settle the pitcher down and was surprised she remained in the game. The next batter drilled a line drive into the right-center field gap to empty the bases giving the Pirates a commanding 7-3 advantage. Mallory Shaver entered the game in relief to get the final out on a routine flyball to the right field.
In the bottom of the seventh with two quick outs, Indy singled and the Pirates intentionally walked Maya Douglas. With runners on first and second, the Patriots final batter struck out to end the ball game.