E.A. Sports Today

Lady Jackets win in dramatic fashion

Oxford rallies several times, then holds off Pleasant Valley to win tournament

Kendra Larkin's walk-off homer against Catholic was one of several dramatic moments on Oxford's road to the tournament title.

Kendra Larkin’s walk-off homer against Catholic was one of several dramatic moments on Oxford’s road to the tournament title.

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — It was a day of close games and three dramatic last-inning victories that brought the Oxford Lady Jackets the Lady Raider Invitational Tournament title at Oxford Lake Saturday.

They survived a five-run rally by host Pleasant Valley to win the championship game, 6-5; rallied from two down with time running out and won in extra innings over last year’s 5A state runner-up Moody 9-7 in the semifinals and got a walk-off two-run home run from Kendra Larkin to come back and beat Catholic 4-3 in the first round of single elimination play.

“I was proud of the way our kids played today,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “They battled their tails off and just fought all day.”

The heroes were many for both Pleasant Valley and Oxford as the two local teams knocked off all others and reached the finals to play a memorable game.

The Lady Jackets jumped out to a 5-0 lead with two runs in the first and three in the fourth. Larkin had a single and an RBI in the first. Ashlyn Miller, Makenzie Trantham, Taylor Ellison and Morgan Whaley gave them what seemed an unsurmountable lead, especially the way Rylee Waldrep was pitching.

“I did what we needed to at that point,” Raiders coach David Bryant said. “I just gathered them in the dugout and had a little talk in the fourth inning and told them to see the ball and hit it and told them a Helen Keller story.”

From that point on the gritty Raiders began pounding away. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth they grinded out six straight hits by Cheyenne Griffith, Madison Bentley, Tiffany Williams, Savannah Williams, Kara Perry and McKinley Parris to tie the game at 5-5. There was time left for one more inning.

Oxford got singles by Sara Howell and Grace Mitchell in the top of the fifth and took the lead on a two-out single by Trantham, who was 3-for-3 in the game.

But it was not over for Pleasant Valley. Taylor Williams and Atleigh Brannon led off with singles and were advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Griffith. Waldrep fanned Bentley and then got Williams to fly to center to end the game.

“The Oxford had a great pitcher and we had to make some adjustments and then we got hot,” Bryant said. “We played good today; it could not have come at a better time.”

Oxford 9, Moody 7

The Lady Jackets’ dramatic run through the elimination round featured a classic extra-inning game against Moody in which they came up with two runs in the fifth inning to stay alive.

It looked like the Lady Jackets’ day might be over, but a Haley Lyner single got things going and the Blue Devils helped with two errors. Sara Howell then singled and Grace Mitchell hit a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

Amber Dempsey singled home two runs in the top of the sixth, but a two-out single by Moody tied the game at 6-6 and the teams battled on another inning.

Ashlyn Miller had an RBI single and Dempsey singled home two more as Oxford took a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh and survived on last Moody jab.

JoJo Skinner was the winning pitcher. Lyner had three hits and Dempsey drove in four runs.

Oxford 4, Catholic 3

The Lady Jackets kept from going home by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning of a time shortened game.

Lyner led off the inning with a double and scored on Morgan Whaley’s single. Larkin then slammed her walk-off homer over the centerfield fence to produce the victory. Waldrep was the winning pitcher and Lyner had two hits.

Oxford lost 2-1 to Moody in pool play despite a home run by Whaley and beat Catholic 7-1 aided by a Larkin home run.

Pleasant Valley 2, St. James 1

Tiffany Williams ignited the Lady Raider offense with a single and scored on a single by Kara Perry. Savannah Williams pitched her way out a five-hit first inning with only one run being scored and and shut them out the rest of the way.

Parris singled home Williams with the winning run in the bottom of the fifth to put the Lady Raiders into the finals. Williams reached on a walk.

In pool play, Pleasant Valley defeated Spring Garden 10-1 behind homer from Anna Bryant and Kara Perry, and St. James 3-0.

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