April 14, 2017 9:51:07 AM
The New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team couldn't hold on to an early lead and lost to Saltillo 9-3 on Thursday night at Lady Trojan Field.
New Hope committed four errors, which helped Saltillo score five runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh.
Although New Hope attempted a rally in the bottom of the seventh, it couldn't fully recover to wrest the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 2 title away from Saltillo.
New Hope coach Bobby Taylor said Saltillo made the plays it needed to win and his team didn't.
"Kind of fell apart," Taylor said. "We just didn't make the plays. My best players just didn't make the routine plays. I think a lot of it had to do with them putting pressure on us."
After a 2-1 loss to Saltillo in the first meeting, New Hope performed better against Saltillo ace Harley Mullins. Taylor said she is the best pitcher his team has faced this season.
New Hope opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Alex Melton and Kelsie Gerhart singled to center field to set the stage for Kerrington Bradford (2-for-4), who lined a single to left field to make it 2-0.
"Coach has helped me with my hitting," Bradford said. "He told me to keep my shoulders up and see the ball, and I owe it all to him tonight. We just laid down in some innings tonight. We got down on ourselves. We are a pretty good hitting team. We are a pretty good team."
New Hope pitcher Kiley Cox ran into trouble in the top of the fourth when the first two batters singled and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. The Tigers tied the game on a sacrifice fly and a groundout.
The Tigers took the lead in the fifth. After leading off with a single, Saltillo bunted the runner to second base. Four singles and two errors later, Saltillo led 7-2. Cox picked off a runner to end the threat.
Saltillo added two runs in the top of the seventh. Three walks and two more errors aided the Tigers' cause.
Cox said she wasn't surprised to see her team try to come back from down late in the game. She said she doesn't expect her team to lay down at any point.
"That's just what you got to do," Cox said. "You can't let down. If you just let down, you're letting yourself down and to win a game. You can't let up. If you want to make it through a season, you have to push through. You have to pick your players up and each other up to help win a game."
Taylor said the Lady Trojans usually do really well in the late innings and that the players usually put up really good numbers.
Despite not winning a district championship, Taylor said he is confident the Lady Trojans will respond after facing Mullins again and will be better for a run into the playoffs.
"We are good. We are OK," Taylor said. "We are going to stay up and stay playing hard. I believe in the team and they believe in themselves, and I feel like we are going to do good. I am not taking anything bad from this game. We just have to work on our defense a little bit."
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