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Late rally dooms DMS softball

Demopolis Middle School head coach Charles Jones has been trying to pinpoint exactly when his team goes flat during the middle of games. Monday night, that point was in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings of a 15-10 home loss to Northside Middle School.

In a game that started an hour after its scheduled first pitch due to schedule confusion among the umpiring crew, Jones’ team opened strong and looked to be headed for a runaway victory before the wheels began to come off.

“You’re up and then you’ve got to get back up,” Jones said of the effects such a delay has on a team. “I thought we got up well, we just went flat. We’ve had a problem with going flat.”

Demopolis (3-10) came out of the gate and scored two runs in the first. Seventh grade shortstop Alex Barnett hit a blooper to first that would have been a single for most players. But Barnett, hustling out of the box, used her speed to turn the two-out looper into a double. Barnett then stole third and later scored on a dropped third strike.

Riley King showed similar hustle, reaching first on the dropped third strike before stealing second. King moved to third on a passed ball and ultimately scored on an error by the Rams’ shortstop, who booted a ball hit by Brittany Tanner.

Ebony Moore appeared poised to add to the lead when she reached on a walk and swiped two bases before the umpire called her out on a play at the plate due to what was determined to be interference by the DMS hitter. In the confusion of the moment, the batter returned to the dugout under the impression she had been called out. That resulted into in two outs for the Tigers.

But Northside still could not get itself out of the inning as an error allowed Sidney Andrews to reach. She stole second and moved to third on a passed ball before Cameron Thomason was hit by a pitch. Meredith Mackin then legged out an infield single to pick up the RBI on Andrews’ run. That sequence put DMS up 3-0 and brought Barnett back up to the plate.

Barnett turned what appeared to be a sure single into a double when she used her speed to reach second on the play.

“She’s got the speed offensively,” Jones said of the seventh grader. “We’ve just got to get her to move defensively. I don’t think she understands her ability. I really expect to see some good things out of her as a seventh grader.”

Barnett’s double netted two RBIs, plating Thomason and Mackin. The DMS shortstop then swiped third before coming around to score on an RBI single by King.

At the end of the frame, Demopolis had scored four runs with two outs and led 6-0, appearing to have the game well in hand. The Rams got one run in the third before scoring four more in the fourth to cut it to 6-5. Demopolis responded with three in the fourth to stretch the lead out to 9-5.

After a scoreless fifth, Demopolis was six outs away from a win when errors and miscues gave Northside life.

“We saw the momentum change and didn’t do anything about it,” Jones said. “Defensively, you should never let anybody get 15 runs on you.”

Northside plated three runs in the sixth and seven in the seventh to pick up the win.

Mackin put forth a valiant effort to pitch around mistakes, lasting six and two-thirds innings before giving way to King.

“You can’t go through these seasons with just one pitcher and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Jones said. “But (Mackin is) committed. That’s the word she and I use with one another. We have a No. 2 pitcher in Riley King. But she jammed her finger in practice and is trying to find her way back. When she does, she’ll be a big help to us. But Meredith gives you all she’s got.”

Barnett went 2-for-3 on the day with a walk, the two doubles and three runs scored. King went 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Tanner had two RBIs while Thomason and Mackin each scored two runs.

Demopolis Middle played again Tuesday and is scheduled for a 3:30 start Thursday at the Sports-Plex.