Lady Longhorns win second straight state crown

Published 6:18 pm Saturday, May 7, 2011

MONTGOMERY — Marengo Academy played a nearly flawless tournament to capture its second consecutive AISA Class AA state title Saturday. The decisive game saw the Lady Longhorns trounce Lowndes Academy 14-1 to leave Lagoon Park with the trophy for the second year in a row.

“It’s all about talent,” MA head coach Danny Stenz said of a budding dynasty that got its first state title under Todd Mathis in 2010. “(The Lady Longhorns) are used to playing together. Even though we didn’t have but two seniors, we had a lot of experience.”

That experience aided the Lady Longhorns Saturday as they blasted Lowndes just hours after escaping a late Lady Rebels surge with a 3-2 win in the morning session.

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“The game was really close,” Stenz said of the first game of the day. “Paige Hill threw a really good ball game. I told the girls to be patient and be selective.”

The teams battled to a scoreless draw until Jaime Johnson found a hole with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The single through the right side scored Chandler Stenz and forced an error from the Lowndes right fielder that allowed Reesa Holifield and Johnson to score on the play. The sequence put Marengo up 3-0 after six inning of play.

Hill, a freshman, led off the inning for Lowndes with a solo home run that cut the deficit to 3-1 and capped a 3-for-3 game. A pair of two-out hits by the Lady Rebels cut the score to 3-2 before Jessica Brock slammed the door by recording her 12th strikeout of the game to seal the win.

Game two carried far less drama after Lowndes fought its way out of the losers bracket by pulling out an 8-7 extra-inning win over Clarke Prep.

Brock scored Destiny Huckabee on an RBI single in the first inning before Nicole Langley crossed home on a wild pitch in the second to put MA up 2-0.

The wheels came off for Lowndes with a two-out, five-run Mareno rally in the third inning that gave the Lady Longhorn’s their first breathing room of the day.

“She had pitched 15 innings,” Stenz said of Hill’s day coming into the final game. “We knew she was going to get tired. She lost a little bit of velocity there.”

Brock doubled with two outs to start the rally before Holifield hit a home run to extend the lead to 4-0. After singles by Johnson and Langley, Caitlin Moore stroked a three-run shot down the left field line to push the advantage to 7-0.

Marengo added another run in the fourth when Holifield plated Chandler Stenz. The final MA surge came in the fifth inning when the Lady Longhorns parlayed six hits into six runs to ice the game. The frame included RBI singles by Huckabee and Stenz, an RBI by Conner Etheridge and a two-RBI single by Brock. Ally Vick also scored on a passed ball.

Brock took home All-Tournament and Most Valuable Player honors. Joining her on the All-Tournament Team were fellow senior Johnson, Huckabee, a junior, and Holifield, a sophomore.

The win marks two calendar years since the Lady Longhorns last lost a game against a Class AA opponent, that loss coming to Lakeside in the state finals on the same field in which MA has clinched the state title each of the last two seasons. The finals appearance also marks the fourth straight time Marengo has appeared in the final round of the draw.