Dixie generated a quartet of three-run innings Saturday and defeated St. Joseph’s 12-6 in the first round of the Class A Upper State Softball Tournament.
The No. 1-ranked Hornets (18-2) move into the winner’s bracket for a game Monday against the winner of the Fox Creek-Lewisville game. Fourth-ranked St. Joseph’s (19-2), which saw its 19-game winning streak end, will play the loser of Fox Creek-Lewisville, also on Monday.
The combo of the bottom and the top of the Dixie batting order proved to be the key to the team’s offense.
Leigha Snipes and Haleigh Phillips – the eight and nine hitters in the lineup – combined to reach base seven times and score five runs. The two batters at the top of the lineup – Samantha Ferguson and Kensly Carwile – scored five runs together and drove in four runs each.
“They’re good ballplayers,” said Dixie coach Gary Stone. “When they get on (the timing of the pitcher), we swing the bat well. We have all season.”
Knights coach Bill Hudson said, “We really never broke their rhythm. They were hitting a lot of hard shots, good base hits. There’s not much you can do with that when it’s going into the gap.”
The Knights scored in the bottom of the first when Alli Griffin singled to bring in Michelle Malsch.
After Dixie scored three in the second for a 3-1 lead, St. Joseph’s plated four runs in the bottom of the frame to go up 5-3.
With two outs, Madalyn Fric scored on Elizabeth Bannio’s single. Carolyn McCullough crossed the plate on a wild pitch, and Jackie Curry singled to bring in Bannio and Malsch.
At that point, Stone replaced starting pitcher Ashlee Brown, who played with a hip injury, with Delanie Laudenbacher.
The reliever retired the first 11 batters she faced. Over five-plus innings, she allowed only a bunt single to Megan Palash, and a triple to Bannio, who scored on an error in the seventh.
The Hornets took the lead for good with three runs in the fourth.
Ferguson had two doubles and a triple. Carwile hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
* In Class AAA softball, Saturday’s scheduled District II final between Woodruff and Daniel was rained out. The Lions will host the Wolverines Monday at 5:30 p.m.
* In the Class AAAA Upper State Tournament, Clover beat Byrnes 10-1. The Rebels play at J.L. Mann on Monday.