E.A. Sports Today

Oxford grabs upper hand

Lady Jackets get two strong pitching outings and edge Chelsea 1-0 in nine innings to secure a spot in the state finals

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Wendy McKibbin knew “we had to get something going.”

The Oxford softball coach was talking about sending the signal to eighth-grade catcher Sarah Howell to steal second in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Howell took off and Chelsea pitcher Sarah Cespedes threw a rare low pitch in the dirt and Howell slid in safely.

Senior Grace Mitchell then drilled the next pitch into the left centerfield gap and Howell raced home with the winning run to give the third-ranked Lady Jackets a 1-0, nine-inning victory over second-ranked Chelsea om the Class 6A Area 10 Tournament at Choccoloco Park Tuesday night.

Chelsea will now play Pell City (45-9) in an elimination game Thursday with the winner having to beat Oxford (35-12) twice on Thursday night to win the the title.

This Area features three of the top four teams in Class 6A and, unfortunately, one will go home after this week, so the stakes were high as Chelsea defeated Pell City 5-1 in Game One.

Cespedes fanned eight in the game. The Chelsea ace picked up her game against the Lady Jackets and had struck out 11 batters and allowed just one hit through two outs into the ninth inning.

That was when Howell smacked a single and set the stage for Mitchell’s clutch double to win the game.

“These two have been clutch for us all year and they came through again,” said McKibbin. “It was a great game, our defense played great and our pitching was great. It was a total team effort.”

The Yellow Jacket pitching aces were just as impressive as they alternated pitching to nine hitters each. Rylee Waldrep allowed four hits and struck out four, while JoJo Skinner allowed one hit and struck out six as they kept the Hornets off balance.

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