September 9, 2009 7:54:00 AM
MACON -- Kylie Lockhart didn''t want to be late.
She also didn''t want to give the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team an opportunity to send Tuesday''s game into extra innings.
So the Starkville Academy center fielder took care of two problems at the same time.
Lockhart''s running catch in right-center field to open the bottom of the seventh inning helped snuff out a potential rally and allowed Starkville Academy to hold on for a 4-3 victory in a non-district game.
"I wanted to catch that ball to know we won it for sure and get it over with," Lockhart said.
Lockhart also recorded the second out of the inning when she ranged to left-center field to retire cleanup hitter Kendall Taylor with a runner on first base.
But Lockhart''s play on No. 2 batter Blake Rigdon set the tone for the inning and helped the Lady Volunteers (18-5) gain some momentum for today''s divisional matchup at Pillow Academy.
Lockhart said she knew when the ball came off the bat that she was going to catch it. She said the work she has put in this season on catching flyballs on the run helped her prevent Central Academy (16-5) from staging a rally.
"We have been working on the hard hits and the ones in front of my feet," Lockhart said. "We have been practicing for a long time."
Lockhart and teammates Shelby Marsh and Jordan Bowman, who left Macon immediately after the game, hope to get to the game in Greenwood in time. Today, they will participate in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Cheerleading and Dance Competition at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Last year, the Starkville Academy varsity took second in the large school cheerleading group. The school''s junior varsity team finished first in the large school cheerleading group.
In 2007, the Lady Volunteers were first in the large group dance and first in the large group cheerleading for varsity teams.
Lockhart hopes the Starkville Academy softball team will have a chance to match the success of those squads this season.
"I think we have a good chance of making it to states," Lockhart said. "I think we are very capable of making it there. When we hit good, it brings everybody up. I think as long as we hit good we will do pretty good at state."
After today''s game, the Lady Volunteers will have two divisional games remaining before the divisional tournament at the end of this month.
Starkville Academy coach Randy Haynes said his team, which is in Division I of Class AAA North, could get as high as a No. 2 seed, which should help it avoid one of the top teams in the eight-team Division I and II mix.
Central Academy committed four of its five errors in the fifth inning, which allowed Starkville Academy to tie the game at 3.
Sarah Lewis'' single in the top of the seventh scored Julie Ann Jackson (three hits), who reached on a one-out single, moved to second on Renee Tatum''s bunt single, and to third on a wild pitch.
Jackson also had a double off the left-center field fence.
Bailey Wofford also had two hits for the Lady Volunteers.
Lyndsey Haynes pitched a complete game to get the victory. The senior right-hander allowed seven hits and struck out seven.
Central Academy scored all three of its runs in the third. Taylor and Alex Dawkins had RBI doubles.
Coach Haynes said Lockhart told him in between innings that she should have caught the flyball that went for one of the doubles.
"I was real proud of her for manning up and for not making any excuses," Haynes said. "It steeled her to make the last three catches. They were big catches at the end of the game."
Haynes said Lockhart has all of the speed in the world, but has been playing softball at this level for only three years. He said the coaches have been trying to convince her for the past three years she has the ability to run and catch balls in the gap.
"She missed that first one, but she went and got another one that was even tougher," Haynes said.
Lillian Lindsey and Marion Colvin nearly made the runs stand up.
Colvin relieved Lindsey in the fourth inning and got some defensive help from shortstop Corey Dawkins, who ranged to her right to field a groundball by Wofford. She flipped to Lindsey at third base for the force play to end the inning.
But the Lady Vikings committed uncharacteristic fielding mistakes in the fifth that cost them their lead.
"We took a long Labor Day holiday off and I think that is what caused the errors," Central Academy co-coach Pres Dawkins said. "We got our three runs and the pitching was good, and in this game when you get three runs you''re supposed to have a good chance to win."
n New Hope 12, Saltillo 2: At Columbus, the Lady Trojans used a 10-run fifth inning to snap a 2-all tie.
D.J. Sanders had a two-run single, and Brandi Brantley, Jessica Moore, Lauren Holifield, Anna McCrary, Kayla Scarborough, and Taylor Brown also had RBIs.
The Lady Trojans junior varsity team also won 12-6.
Ashley Boyle had a three-run double in a five-run first inning to spark the victory.
Kaitlyn Bradley had a two-run single in the third.
n Caledonia 3, Ripley 0: At Ripley, The Lady Confederates improved to 8-1 and 4-0 in the district with their straight sets victory.
Set scores were 25-10, 25-7, 25-16.
Kori Hankins had three kills, Sunnie Rushing had two blocks, three kills, one ace, and one assist, Ashley Dodson had two blocks, four kills, and one assist, Kara Von Kanel had three blocks, six kills, and two aces, Marlana Dolan had two aces, Whitney Pounders had three aces, and Shana Cruse had one kill, one ace, and 11 assists.
The junior varsity team also won to improve to 7-0.
Caledonia plays Thursday at Aberdeen.
n Starkville 3, West Lowndes 0: At Starkville: The Lady Yellow Jackets swept the Lady Panthers by scores of 25-9, 25-20, 25-10.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.