McDonald gets super-sized hit|Knights overcome poor start with a five-run, seventh-inning rally

Published 1:59 pm Friday, April 30, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Sports Writer
This wasn’t the way Terra Ceia coach Ashley Harris envisioned his team would play in the first round of the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament on Thursday.
For six-and-a-half innings the Knights misplayed balls on defense and failed to deliver a big hit on offense, while their ace pitcher issued 12 walks in four innings.
Harris was not without fault either. The coach looked on as his defense was caught out of position and unaware during two different run-downs. Harris, acting as a third-base coach, also failed to instruct his baserunner to tag-up from third base at a key moment late in the game.
“We did not play well today, I guess we just were not mentally into the game and made some foolish errors,” Harris said. “I could tell in the first two innings something was wrong.”
All of the above led to the fourth-seeded Knights trailing 8-5 to fifth-seeded Albemarle with three outs left in the game.
Then it happen.
The team that could do no right became the team that had destiny in sight as Terra Ceia pieced together a five-run rally that featured all the ingredients the team lacked leading up to the bottom of the seventh as they squeaked by Albemarle 9-8 Thursday.
The Knights (15-6), who loaded the bases twice with no outs only to produce two runs earlier in the game, finally got clutch hitting and their ticket punched to go on to the second round of the playoffs where they will face Hobgood on the road today.
Lindsay Smith got the rally started when she reached first on a Colts’ error.
Albemarle (4-6), which features only three seniors on a roster that is dominated by middle-schoolers, had just as bad of a day on defense as the Knights, and committed five errors to Terra Ceia’s six.
Natalie Grissom followed up Smith’s at-bat with a single and Kristen Alons kept the momentum going with a single of her own which scored Smith to make it an 8-5 game.
After Albemarle pitcher Samantha Harrell got leadoff hitter Katie Jackson to strike out, she gave up an RBI single to Morgan Boyd which cut the Colts’ lead to 8-6.
With runners on second and third and one out, Albemarle made what might have been the worst error of the day when it elected to pitch to Knights’ No. 3 hitter Paige Roberson. Up to that point, Roberson had been the only real threat in the lineup and had hit the ball hard in every at-bat.
Roberson did not disappoint in her final at-bat of the evening as she crushed a two-run double to right field to tie the game at 8-8.
“We have a good bottom of the lineup and they got on base for us when we needed them to,” Harris said. “And there is nobody I would rather have up to bat with runners on than our top-of-the-lineup hitters Katie Jackson, Morgan Boyd and Paige Roberson … And they came up big for us.”
Harrell looked like she might get out of the jam when she struck out Chandler Furlough for the second out of the inning. However, Hollie McDonald made sure there would be no extra-innings as she came up to bat and smacked a Harrell pitch down the line that rolled into right field and allowed the alert Roberson to score from second base to win the game.
Harris was happy to see happy to McDonald hit the game-winner.
“She has struggled a lot this year hitting, but the last half of the year she has come on and been hitting a lot stronger,” Harris said. “She has just been big for us.”
The Knights started out by taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning when a series of Colts’ errors led to Jackson scoring from third on a catcher’s interference.
Albemarle struck back and tacked on two runs in the second as it patiently drew walks off of Boyd, the Knights’ starting pitcher, and capitalized on poor Knights’ defense.
Both teams went scoreless in the third before the Colts tallied three runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth, while the Knights scored one in the fourth and one in the sixth.
Boyd struggled from the get-go, and despite not giving up a hit, allowed five runs in four innings thanks in large part to issuing 12 walks. Boyd also struck out six batters.
“Morgan wasn’t sharp today and obviously I waited too long (to take her out),” Harris said. “It was my fault, I waited way too long and even she said ‘I was wondering when you were going to come out.’”
Harris said he hesitated to put in Roberson, the Knights’ other ace, in the game because Boyd usually rights the ship. By the start of the fifth Harris finally went to Roberson who pitched the final three innings to get the win.
Albemarle 020 310 2 — 8 5 5
Terra Ceia 110 101 5 — 9 9 6
WP: Paige Roberson; LP: Samantha Harrell
Hitting: A — Karry Roach 1-5 (2R), Lorie Cartwright 2-2 (3B, RBI, 2R), Samantha Harrell 1-4 (RBI), Cassidy Flowers 1-2 (R); TC— Katie Jackson 1-4 (2B), Morgan Boyd 2-2 (RBI), Paige Roberson (2-4 (2B, 3 RBI), Hollie McDonald 1-5 (RBI), Lindsay Smith 1-4, Natalie Grissom 1-3 (R), Kristen Alons 1-4 (RBI, 3R).