E.A. Sports Today

Late HR sinks Oxford

Seventh-inning blast sends Chelsea over Lady Jackets in the Class 6A state title game

By East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – The seven games Oxford has played with Chelsea this season have been some of the most intense one will find on the softball field. It was no different Friday.

There’s no more intense atmosphere than a tied game in the late innings with a championship on the line.

The Lady Jackets were within three outs and a little late magic of extending their season and perhaps winning a state title. Instead, Chelsea broke through first.

Mallory Bradford hit a two-run homer in the top of seventh inning to break the tie and send the Lady Hornets to a 3-1 win over Oxford at Lagoon Park for the Class 6A state championship.

The Lady Jackets had to beat Chelsea twice to win it all. They fell into the losers bracket with a 3-1 loss to the Lady Hornets earlier in the day, then beat Southside-Gadsden 1-0 to reach the championship series.

All three teams were consistently ranked in the state’s top three during the regular season, indicating just what the Lady Jackets were up against.

“We played Chelsea this morning and we got beat by them and we could’ve laid down against Southside but we didn’t, we fought back,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We played Chelsea seven times this year; they beat us four, we beat them three.

“They outhit us. I think we left more runners on base. We couldn’t get the clutch hit that we needed, but my kids left everything they had. They played with all they had out there. We made a run for it, came up a little short.”

The Lady Jackets struck first in the championship game when Sarah Howell singled home Taylor Ellison in the first inning. Chelsea tied it in the fourth and the game stayed that way until the seventh.

Allie Miller led off the inning against JoJo Skinner with a single and Bradford followed with her two-run shot to left. Bradford told reporters after the game she didn’t even see her homer leave the park.

“It was a good pitch and it was a good hit, so it goes both ways,” Skinner said.

The Lady Jackets needed to mount a rally to keep their season alive and their ability to battle back has been one of the hallmarks of their year. But tournament MVP Sarah Cespedes put them down in order in the seventh.

Cespedes, a sophomore, had Oxford no-hit until the seventh inning of their earlier game. She had allowed only one base-runner in the first six innings and that came when she threw high to first on Taylor Ellison’s bunt leading off the fourth.

Garrett led off the seventh inning with a home run to give the Lady Jackets life and Lyner followed with an infield single, but Cespedes got out of that with no further damage.

Howell, Skinner, Kaylynn Garrett and Haley Lyner all made the all-tournament team for Oxford.

Amber Dempsey played a big role in the Lady Jackets’ win over Southside. She threw a runner out at the plate in the first inning and hit her first career home run in the second for the game’s only run.

“I’ve been robbed of one and had one hit the top of the fence, so I knew it was coming at some point,” she said. “At first I didn’t think it was over, I thought it was a ground-rule double, so when they said it was over, it was really great. It was a good time to do it being the only run that we scored.”

Friday’s Games
Chelsea 3, Oxford 1

Chelsea 100 001 1 — 3 5 1
Oxford 000 000 1 — 1 2 1
WP: Sarah Cespedes. LP: Rylee Waldrep. HRs: Allie Miller (C), Kaylynn Garrett (O).

Oxford 1, Southside-Gadsden 0

Southside 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Oxford 010 000 x — 1 2 1
WP: Rylee Waldrep. LP: Savanna Yancey. HR: Amber Dempsey (O).

Championship Game
Chelsea 3, Oxford 1

Chelsea 000 100 2 — 3 12 0
Oxford 100 000 0 — 1 4 0
WP: Sarah Cespedes. LP: JoJo Skinner. HR: Mallory Bradford (C).

You must be logged in to post a comment Login