The little things get magnified against a four-time state champion.
That”s why Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball coach Cass Tapley knew his team needed to take advantage of any opportunity it had Monday against Bayou Academy in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A North Half tournament in Cleveland.
On Saturday, the Lady Eagles realized that goal with just enough hitting and a solid pitching effort from Chloe Tapley to earn a 1-0 victory.
Hebron Christian wasn”t as fortunate Monday.
Hillary Arnold had Hebron Christian”s only hit in a 1-0 loss to Bayou Academy in the team”s second game of the day. The loss pushed the teams to a winner-take-all second game that Bayou Academy won 11-0.
“(The first game against Bayou Academy) was kind of a mirror image to the one we had Saturday,” coach Tapley said. “They got a hit at the right time. We had a couple of opportunities, but we just didn”t capitalize.”
Hebron Christian”s best chance against the four-time defending state champions came in the sixth inning with runners on second and third base. Chloe Tapley appeared to have delivered with a drive into the left-center field gap, but the center fielder made a fine running catch to snuff out the rally.
“If it gets down, we score two runs and we win the game,” Tapley said.
Hillary Arnold had the only hit for the Lady Eagles (24-11).
On Saturday, shortstop Magen Tapley made a fine backhanded catch with Bayou Academy runners on second and third to preserve the 1-0 victory.
Tapley admitted his team ran out of gas in the final game of the day. He tried to split the pitching between Jessica Fleming, who has been having back problems, and Chloe Tapley, but Bayou Academy scored early and then capitalized on defensive mistakes to break the game open in the fifth.
“This was an outstanding tournament for us,” Tapley said. “I am extremely proud of the way they fought the entire time. We took care of the teams that we should have, and that win against Bayou on Saturday was the best one I have ever been a part of.”
The results mean Hebron Christian will make its first appearance in the state tournament Saturday at Liberty Park in Madison as the No. 2 seed out of the North.
Hebron Christian started Monday with an 8-0 victory against Tri-County. The Lady Eagles scored six runs in the sixth inning to break the game open. Alaina Hill, Cathryn Moore, Beverly Blake, and Arnold each had two hits. Chloe Tapley pitched a no-hitter and struck out 18.
“I knew it was coming,” Tapley said. “We had a few hits along the way, but we just couldn”t break through. It was everybody (who contributed to the attack). It was feeding frenzy for a little bit. Then it was over.”
Tapley said the Lady Eagles won”t be satisfied just to go to the state tournament. He said the team will do everything it can to win it.
“Bayou will be the bell cow there, but we have had two one-run games against them, and when our pitching is fresh we stand as good a chance as anybody to beat them,” Tapley said.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.