E.A. Sports Today

Showdown shutout

Top-ranked Southside pushes run across in third, No. 3 Oxford can’t find the hitting to overcome it

Southside's Britney Kidd slides home with the only run of the game in the Lady Panthers' 1-0 win over Oxford. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Southside’s Britney Kidd slides home with the only run of the game in the Lady Panthers’ 1-0 win over Oxford. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – There was a lesson to be learned in it its loss to the top-ranked team in its classification Thursday night and coach Wendy McKibbin hopes her Oxford softball team got the message.

The third-ranked Yellow Jackets lost to No. 1 Southside 1-0 in an epic final regular-season game at Choccolocco Park.

It was the kind of game you might expect from two of the state’s top teams. If the Yellow Jackets (34-12) had been a little sharper at the plate they might have been able to make a claim to being No. 1 even though the final poll has come and gone.

Oxford had four hits and four runners cut down on the bases, two trying to get into scoring position, one on a close play at third and one at the plate.

In the grand scheme of things it was nothing more than a regular-season game, but the Lady Jackets would do well remember why the game turned out like it did.

“It made our kids understand and humbled to a point where we’ve got to hit,” McKibbin said. “Our defense is fine, our pitching is great; we’ve got to put runners on base and in scoring position and when we do we’ve gotta get a hit.

“You’re going to see tight ballgames this next week. Our area is the toughest in the state, I don’t care what anybody says, and it’s who makes the least amount of mistakes. The team that’s going to win our area tournament is the one that’s going to outhit everybody else.”

She’s right about the area. Oxford’s tournament will have the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 ranked team in Class 6A. Two teams will advance meaning somebody good is going to stay home.

The Jackets tried to be aggressive in the game, but lost scoring opportunities on the bases. Taylor Ellison was thrown out at third in the first inning trying to grab an extra base on Kaylynn Garrett’s sacrifice; Haley Lyner singled in the next at bat. Bailey Clark was cut down at home in the third getting a late jump on Garrett’s grounder to third that became an inning-ending double play.

Clark made the last out in the fifth trying to stretch a single into a double and Ellison was caught stealing in the sixth.

“They’re going to be aggressive; I want to see what happens,” McKibbin said. “In a game like this you can’t take off when you’re aggressive and when you’re not. I would’ve been the best coach in the world if it all would’ve worked out, but at the same time we didn’t hit.

“We’ve got to do a better job of adjusting to the pitching; we’ve got to hit the ball. We scored a bunch of runs this weekend in the Southside tournament. We scored a bunch of runs against Clay-Chalkville. Southside is an incredible team, but we’ve got to adjust. We have to put the ball in play. Too much out on our front foot, not hitting the ball solid, just beating the ball in the ground.”

Southside (36-8) scored the game’s only run in the third. Britney Kidd led off with a double, moved to third on an infield out and scored when she beat the throw home after the Jackets threw to first on Caroline Pope’s chop between short and third.

For the Lady Panthers the victory was a welcomed sight. They had lost their last two games and were playing without their best pitcher. Savannah Yancey suffered a partial ACL tear in their tournament over the weekend, but she is expected to be back in time for their area tournament.

“I feel better today about this game than I did on Tuesday,” Southside coach Angie Sanders said. “We had previously lost two games, so this felt good for us.”

Oxford's Taylor Ellison (4) is about to be tagged out at second base in the Lady Jackets' 1-0 loss to Southside. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Oxford’s Taylor Ellison (4) is about to be tagged out at second base in the Lady Jackets’ 1-0 loss to Southside. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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