Lady Tigers keep winning

Published 10:00 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

Demopolis overcame an early deficit and held on down the stretch for a 5-4 win over Sylacauga Friday in the first round of the AHSAA’s double-elimination tilt to determine the Class 5A South Central Region champion.

“It’s huge,” DHS head coach Joey Browder said of his squad winning its opening game. “We said all along that it was almost a necessity to get the win (Friday) so that we’d have the evening and the night to recuperate and rest up and spend time together as a team.”

The Lady Tigers got off to an inauspicious start when a walk, an error and a wild pitch led to a pair of first-inning Sylacauga runs. After surrendering the two scores, Demopolis still appeared in dire straits with a pair of runners on base and only one out. However, freshman shortstop Raylee Eubanks fielded a flare off the bat of the Aggies’ five-hole hitter and alertly threw to first baseman Ashley Polk for the double play, bailing DHS out of a jam.

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“I think we carried over our mentality from the area tournament,” Browder said, referring to a four-game Tuesday affair in which Demopolis battled from behind in each of its three wins before capturing the area crown. “With the rain the last couple days, we didn’t get to practice as much as we wanted, but we had a good, quality day (Thursday) and we carried it over to (Friday). We were relaxed and ready to play.”

After securing the timely twin-killing to get out of the inning, Demopolis went to work at the plate.

Jordon Cramer led off the DHS effort with a single before moving to second on a hard hit ball off the bat of Samantha Walker. The Sylacauga shortstop proved unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing Walker to reach safely. After successfully pulling off the front end of a double steal, Cramer trotted in for the game’s first run when Kristen Beach launched a sacrifice fly to centerfield for the RBI. Demopolis tied the game one batter later on a Kathleen Randall single that scored Walker.

The Tigers added to their lead in the second inning. The DHS rally started with a one-out single from Brooke Bryant, who later made her way to third base when an SHS infielder bobbled a ball hit by Cramer. After stealing Cramer to second, DHS had a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs. Walker followed with a groundball to the shortstop. The Aggie infielder picked up the ball routinely, but appeared to be distracted by Cramer, who broke off second base. The hesitation allowed Bryant to score from third, putting DHS up 3-2. Demopolis went up 4-2 in the third inning when Kristen Beach stroked a double that plated Melanie McCrory.

“Kristen’s gotten consistently better all year. She has emerged as a real offensive and defensive leader for our team,” Browder said. “She’s both a vocal leader and leads by example. I think the team and coaches all have confidence in her at that slot.”

Sylacauga used a pair of errors to fire back in the fifth inning, cutting the lead to 4-3. The narrowed deficit was short-lived as Demopolis stretched its lead back out in the home half of the frame. Beach ripped a one-out double to left and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a groundball by Randall, handing DHS the 5-3 lead. Sylacauga added a run in the sixth and got the leadoff batter aboard in the seventh before DHS pitcher Madison Laduron slammed the door.

“She had some pretty good shots hit right back to her. She knocked them down and played those,” Browder said. “She kept her head about her and pitched a good ball game.”

Laduron pitched the full seven innings, striking out three and allowing only three hits for the win.

Demopolis is scheduled to play today at 9:30 a.m. against Briarwood Christian, who defeated Beauregard 3-1 in first-round action Friday.