Co-Lin dumps Northeast in title game

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 15, 2006

WESSON — Friday afternoon, the Co-Lin Lady Wolves fastpitchsoftball team made school history. Co-Lin (37-7) knocked off theNortheast Lady Tigers 8-3 to capture their first Region 23Tournament championship before a big crowd of loyal fans.

The Lady Wolves, coached by Allen Kent, won the MACJC statecrown last week on campus and had won the right to host the 4-teamregion tournament. Co-Lin is ranked No. 5 nationally.

Kent was also presented with the Coach of the Year plaque byMACJC representative Katie Herrington and Co-Lin athletic directorGwyn Young before the presentation of the Region 23 plaque to theLady Wolves.

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“I’m just so proud for the girls,” said Co-Lin head fastpitchcoach Allen Kent after the victory. “They worked so hard.”

The Lady Wolves leave Tuesday for the National Tournament inNormal, Ill. The tourney runs from Wednesday through Saturday.

“It’s very satisfying to go undefeated in the state and theregional tournament,” stated Kent. “It’s been just a really funride this whole year. We have won 25 out of our last 26 games. Thegirls have really meshed well and it’s just been a blast being apart of it. They stayed loose and focused all week.”

In the earlier game, Northeast eliminated LSU-Eunice 23-7 toface to Co-Lin for the championship. LSU-Eunice had cut the deficitto 9-7 going into the seventh inning when the Lady Tigers explodedfor a 14-0 scoring run to put away the Lady Bengals for good.

The Lady Wolves had two runners on base on walks in the firstinning but were unable to advance and score.

In the top of the second, Co-Lin went to work at the plate andscored four runs for a 4-0 lead. Lauren Smith doubled down the leftfield line to kick off the inning. Megan Bateman dropped a buntsingle and Amber Beeson was hit by a pitch and loaded the bases.After a fielder’s choice, Annie Selman singled in two runs. PitcherEmily Horne followed a 2-out single to left field for the 2RBI.

The Lady Wolves went to work again in the fourth inning for twomore runs for a 6-0 lead. Selman led off with a single to leftfield. On a hit-and-run play, Jackie Stowe stroked a double toright center to score Selman. Horne moved from Stowe to third on aground out for first and Erin Douglass drove in Stowe with agrounder to second.

In the bottom of the fourth, Northeast’s Kelly Hankins smashed asolo home run over the left field fence to cut the deficit to 6-1.Following the homer, the Lady Tigers ripped back-to-back fly ballsto Co-Lin centerfielder Kaylin Burke for two outs and fly ball toshortstop Kady King to end the inning. Burke caught the first ballon a run and slid to make the catch.

Northeast wasn’t done. The Lady Tigers tacked on 2 more runs,cutting the deficit to 6-3. With one out, Maria Goldman singled andadvance to second on a sacrifice fly by Kim Pannell. FallonThompson singled and Erin Mangum doubled to score Goldman andThompson for the pair of runs. Hankins flied out to right fielderErin Douglass to end the inning.

With the score now 6-3 in the top of the seventh, the LadyWolves tacked on another pair of runs for the 8-1 lead and eventualwin. Bateman centered to center and Beeson dropped a bunt single.Burke moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt. Selman groundedout to short produced an RBI. Stowe ripped a single to center toscore Beeson.

The Lady Tigers weren’t through. They loaded the bases with oneout as Horne induced two pop ups to Stowe at second to secure thechampionship.

Horne picked up the win, improving her record to 19-3 on theseason. The All-Region sophomore struck out six batters, walked twoand allowed five hits.

“Emily hung in there and gave us a chance to win, just like shehas done all year,” said Kent. “We finally gave us some run supportearly in the game. We kicked it around today, committing fourerrors and two unearned runs, but we made the plays when we neededto.”

Powering the Lady Wolves at the plate was Selman with 2 singles,2 walks, 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Bateman collected 2 singles andscored twice. Stowe doubled, singled and drive in 2 runs and scoreda run. Allyson Wallace singled.

Mangum was the losing pitcher with Sierra Coltharp working thelast six innings.

When asked about the sliding catch for the big out in thefourth, Burke replied, “I knew I had the confidence.

“It’s amazing,” continued Burke about winning regional. “We aregoing to The Ship (National Tournament). That’s what we call it. Wealways pulled together.”

Kent said he appreciated the fan support the last two weeks andis hoping it will help with recruiting for the future and lift upthe sport of fastpitch.

“Coach (Johnny) Williams and I are going to savor this while itlasts, because teams like this don’t come around very often,” addedKent. “Like Johnny said, ‘anything from here on out is justgravy’.”