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By JOEL COLEMAN
The Starkville Academy softball team found a way to slow down the big bats of Copiah Academy on Tuesday.
Solving Lady Colonels starting pitcher Kaitlyn Taylor however, was a different matter altogether.
Taylor hurled her sixth shutout of the season for Copiah as Starkville Academy fell at home to the Lady Colonels 4-0.
"She pitched pretty well today," said Lady Colonels head coach Terry Bauer of Taylor. "She actually didn't pitch as well as she has been in the past."
Taylor's outing still proved to be too much for the Lady Vols (13-17, 4-8 in conference play) to overcome. The sophomore hurler allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out seven SA hitters.
"(Taylor) is really talented," said Starkville Academy head coach Kayla Mosley. "She can hit spots. If she's told to throw it inside an inch off the plate, she's going to throw it inside an inch off the plate. That's her strong point right there. She didn't miss very many times (Tuesday)."
Taylor received plenty of runs to support her dominant performance, despite the fact that Copiah didn't live up to its high-scoring reputation.
In a complete-game effort of her own, SA starting pitcher Julianne Jackson allowed the Lady Colonels seven hits and walked no one.
Jackson and the the Starkville Academy defense kept the Lady Vols afloat all day long.
"Defensively, I thought we played great," said Mosley. "Maybe one or two little mishaps, but other than that, we played good. Copiah is a good hitting team and I knew we were going to have to come out and play good defensively against them and I thought we did so."
While SA's solid glove work kept the game close, Copiah was able to mount enough offense to head to the victory.
The Lady Colonels (26-3, 8-1 in conference play) started the scoring early as Morgan Brown reached on an infield single to start the top of the first, then scored on a Kamryn Vanlandingham sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Up 1-0, Copiah extended its lead in the fourth.
With one out, Kacie Berry singled and was driven home a batter later when Taylor doubled to put the Lady Colonels up 2-0.
Copiah doubled its advantage with a pair of insurance runs in the seventh.
Kelli Berry started the late rally with a one-out single, followed by a RBI double off the bat of Lindsey Walker.
After Walker advanced to third on a wild pitch, she came around to score on a ground out by Brown.
Starkville Academy's best chance to score came in the home half of the first inning.
Trailing 1-0 at the time, Adrienne Futral led off with a single, then advanced to second when Megan Picard walked.
The SA threat was thwarted when Jackson and Nikki Ford each grounded into fielder's choice force outs and Ford was picked off of first base on a snap throw by Copiah catcher Kacie Berry.
"I thought we put the bat on the ball, we just couldn't get runners across," said Mosley.
Though the Lady Vols never found a way to get a run, Futral finished the day a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate.
Futral is now 6-for-7 over the course of her last two games.
"She's been doing a good job for us, just slapping the ball," said Mosley of Futral. "She's got good speed, so if she puts it in play, she puts pressure on the defense."
Futral's Tuesday spark came from the leadoff spot in the batting order, a position usually held by shortstop Mary Austin Barber.
Barber missed Tuesday's game with shoulder soreness.
"Just needed to give (Barber's) shoulder a little rest," said Mosley. "She's been playing a lot, working with her travel ball team too, so just giving her some rest before playoffs."
Starkville Academy still has two regular-season games remaining.
The Lady Vols travel to Heritage on Monday for a 4 p.m. game prior to hosting Central Academy at 4 p.m. on September 22.