BELL BUCKLE — In what was a defensive battle on the diamond between the Community Viqueens and the Cascade Lady Champions on Friday night, freshman pitcher Annie Prince shined on the mound by …
BELL BUCKLE — In what was a defensive battle on the diamond between the Community Viqueens and the Cascade Lady Champions on Friday night, freshman pitcher Annie Prince shined on the mound by giving up only two hits while striking out 14 batters throughout the contest as Community shutout their second straight opponent in the 2-0 victory over Cascade.
“My freshman pitcher came out and balled tonight,” Viqueens coach Cam Farrell said.
“I asked her the other day if she was going to be ready, and she said ‘absolutely.’ We had a couple timely hits, but Cascade isn’t a pushover – they have strong pitching too. We knew it would be a battle.”
Both teams held their own in the field and didn’t allow for much offense until the top of the fifth inning when the Viqueens (6-2, 2-0) found a hole in the left side of the Lady Champions (4-3, 1-1) defense for a pair of singles that plated the first run of the game.
After Abi Brown was hit by pitch and Zoey Dixon knocked the first single of the inning, Alana Tate laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her teammates into better scoring position with Carlie Blanton heading to the plate.
And with two outs down, Blanton sent a hard ground ball to shortstop where Lady Champion Hannah Vandiver laid out to make the stop, but couldn’t get the out to prevent the run, and Community took a 1-0 lead.
Vandiver produced the third out of the inning on the very next play to get her team off the field.
The Lady Champions knocked a lone single in the bottom of the fifth inning, but couldn’t get much else to work at the plate with Prince in a groove on the mound.
After a quick sixth inning where Community went down 1-2-3 in the top half and Cascade didn’t have a runner move past second base, the Lady Vikings produced another run in their final inning at the plate to give themselves some insurance heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Anna Haskins singled to open the bottom of the seventh – and after an error two at-bats later – she found herself in prime scoring position on third base with Dixon reaching second base in the same play.
Cascade pitcher Brianna Horn fanned the next batter for her second of the inning, but the next at-bat proved costly for the Lady Champions.
Blanton stepped to the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position, and popped the second pitch she saw up into the air in the infield, but there was a miscommunication between the Lady Champions and the ball fell to the dirt as Haskins crossed the plate to give the Viqueens a 2-0 advantage heading into the final half inning.
“Bri (Horn) was on it and we were having a hard time with her,” Farrell said. “We’ve been hitting pretty well lately, but she was on her game tonight. Getting those timely runs were big for our energy late in the game instead of dragging to the dugout with nothing on the board.”
Horn gave up six hits on the night while striking out six batters in the loss.
In their last chance at potentially tying or winning the game, the Lady Champions put up a strong fight to get runners in scoring position, but ultimately couldn’t produce a run in the end.
Vandiver walked to open the bottom of the seventh, and later found herself on third base after Alivia Fannin singled and they both stole a base on a defensive indifference from Community.
With two outs down in the inning, Ella Thompson stepped to the plate for Cascade and battled with Prince until she popped the ball up behind the plate and Chloe West secured the out and the win for Community.
For Lady Champions head coach Willie Carter, errors in the field and a lack of adjustments in the batter’s box made it difficult for his team to get past the pitching of Prince.
“We still have a lot of growing to do,” he said. “We made a lot of mental errors and didn’t adjust in the box against their pitching. In the end, that’s what cost us. With a pitcher that, what I call, short-strokes the ball, you have to adjust throughout the game and we never did. I can’t stand mental errors in the field, so we’re going to have to cut those out to succeed this year.”
The win puts the Viqueens in prime position in District 7-AA play as they will catch Cascade again after spring break before meeting the Forrest Lady Rockets for the first time this season and Grundy County for the second time.
“That’s two shutouts in the district,” Farrell said. “We haven’t played Forrest yet, but I think this lets our girls know what they’re capable of. We’re young and old, but I think the younger ones are figuring it out that they can compete and win out here.”
Both squads will compete in their own respective tournaments over spring break as the Viqueens travel to Gulf Shores, Ala. while the Lady Champions compete in the Warriors Classic in Murfreesboro.
Community 000 010 1 — 2 6 0
Cascade 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Community: Anna Haskins 3-for-4, Carlie Blanton 1-for-3, Abigail Brown 1-for-3, Zoey Dixon 1-for-4.
Cascade: Alivia Fannin 2-for-3.