Starkville Academy's Mary Austin Barber hurls a pitch to the plate against Pillow Academy on Wednesday. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers took advantage of a scoring opportunity during Wednesday's game against Pillow Academy that made for a more competitive situation.
After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning and didn't score, the Lady Vols were able to get two runs on two hits in the third.
Despite eventually losing an 8-4 decision to Pillow, Starkville Academy softball coach Kayla Mosley was very pleased with the effort.
"Every time the other team scored, we came right back and stayed in the game," Mosley said. "It was a short little talk with them after the game. I told them I was proud they competed the way they did and I couldn't ask for anything more than that."
Pillow Academy took a 2-0 lead with a run in the second inning and another in the third, but the Lady Vols scored twice in the third to tie the game.
Like the first inning, Starkville Academy got the first two batters on base in Adrienne Futral and Mary Austin Barber. Futral and Barber were left on the base in the first, but a wild pitch allowed Futral to score and an RBI single by Alex McCafferty drove in Barber in the third.
Futral and Barber were pushed into scoring position on a bunt by Lauren Ware.
Mosley had a talk with Ware prior to her at-bat and was glad she was able to move the runners over.
"When you get somebody in the box that can play small ball and can do things like get a bunt down for you, it really opens things up and you can be creative in situations like that," Mosley said. "When you get baserunners moving and put the ball in play, that makes the other team make mistakes. That's what gives you a chance."
In the fourth, the visiting Lady Mustangs jumped back out to a 4-2 advantage. The Lady Vols tied the game once again in the same inning with a two-run single by Ware. With the time-limit looming, SA could have won the game with another run, but Ware was left at first base.
Pillow struck a mighty blow to the Lady Vols' hopes at a victory by getting four runs in the fifth inning with the international tiebreaker rule in effect. The Lady Vols answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth but it was not enough.
Starkville Academy got a lift in the circle by Barber. She is a senior that doesn't have much experience as a pitcher, but Mosley decided to give her an opportunity.
Barber scattered nine hits and struck out eight Pillow batters.
"She hasn't thrown a whole lot in practice for us, but I thought she did a great job," Mosley said of Barber's pitching. "She competed. With any bad pitch, she came right back to throw a strike. I couldn't ask for any better effort than that right there."
Futral and McCafferty had two singles each for the Lady Vols, while Barber and Ware had one single each.
Pillow pitcher Grayson Wells proved to be difficult to hit at times as she recorded 11 strikeouts.
Starkville Academy, which fell to 0-2, hosts Central Academy at home today with varsity action beginning at 4 p.m.
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