September 25, 2009 8:15:00 AM
WEST POINT -- Memrie Corley didn''t waver.
Clinging to a one-run lead, the Carroll Academy sophomore pitcher had just allowed a double to Maegen Ellis in the top of the sixth inning.
She then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ellis to move to third base with only one out.
The jam was right where Corley wanted to be.
"I just needed to keep my composure, not let it affect me, and just pitch like I should and pitch strikes," Corley said.
Corley responded by striking out the next batter and retiring the final batter on a popup Thursday to help Carroll Academy beat Oak Hill Academy 2-1 in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools District 2AA game.
"She has been super all season," Carroll Academy coach Rusty Miller said. "She has been lights out this year
With the victory, Carroll Academy (21-10) earned the No. 1 seed in the district and will play Hillcrest Christian at 9 a.m. Saturday at North Delta School in the AA North Half State tournament.
Oak Hill Academy (10-9) will be the No. 2 seed from the district and will face Indianola Academy at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The top two teams from the all-day event will advance to the overall state tournament.
Miller said the district title was the school''s first in his six years as coach, and that it might be the program''s first.
The Lady Rebels can celebrate their title thanks to Corley (14-5), who struck out six and allowed only four hits (two doubles by Ellis).
"She is a bulldog," Miller said. "She makes the ball move. She is very competitive. She has played travel ball all her life. She is a fighter. She never gives up."
Corley said she used a screwball, which she called "her pitch," to escape trouble in the sixth inning. She knows she isn''t a dominating pitcher and has to move the ball up and down and in and out to keep hitters off balance.
"(The movement on my pitches) was pretty good," Corley said. "I left a few over the plate that I shouldn''t have -- the ones that went out there (pointing to the outfield). I just kept my composure."
Corley kept telling her teammates it needed to score more runs to put the game away. When she realized that wasn''t going to happen, she knew she had to take matters into her hands.
"I just had to keep my drive and pitch like I know how," Corley said.
Miller said rain forced the game to be postponed at least a half dozen times. He said Thursday''s game originally was scheduled to be played at Holmes Community College, but that field was swamped. He said his home field was too wet and that he called Bratton on Thursday and asked if Oak Hill Academy''s field was playable.
Bratton said his field also was wet, but that he would do his best to make it playable. The work paid off as the infield was completely dry except for one spot, while the outfield still was pretty damp.
Oak Hill Academy coach Marion Bratton was pleased with his team''s play Thursday. He said the Lady Raiders have done well all season to make up for the losses of Mary Helen Hays and Paige Dawkins. Both players were lost to injuries before the season started.
Hays and Dawkins would have added a little more punch to the lineup Thursday. Mamie Allen and Abby Falkner had the only other hits for Oak Hill Academy, which committed a costly error in the bottom of the first inning that helped Carroll Academy score two runs.
"I am proud of my team," Bratton said. "We have two ballplayers we have missed all year who had 40 RBIs between them last year, and we have just over 40 RBIs this season. We definitely missed their bats, but when somebody goes down there is an opportunity for somebody to step up. Nobody died this year from it, and it is going to make us better next year."
Allen was dominating in the circle. The freshman right-hander struck out 11 and allowed only three hits. She allowed a single to Faith McCorkle in the first inning. McCorkle went from first to third on the infield error and scored on a wild pitch.
Kacy Beavers, who reached on the error, moved to second on a fielder''s choice, to third on the wild pitch, and scored on an infield groundout.
Miller thought his team would scorer more runs, especially with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. But Allen worked out of that jam with two strikeouts.
Oak Hill Academy cut the deficit in half in the fourth. Ellis doubled, stole third, and scored on a single to right field by Allen.
But Corley didn''t allow much more. After working out of trouble in the sixth, Falkner singled in the seventh and was sacrificed to second. But Corley struck the final batter out to secure the victory.
"She was sneaky," Bratton said. "This bunch is a scrappy bunch. I compare them to Macon Central. Macon Central is the toughest group of girls in this area. I love to play Macon Central because they never give up. A lot of teams can learn a lot from Carroll and Macon Central, getting tough between the ears. A lot of times that is what gets you through."
Oak Hill Academy seniors Anna Claire Spradling and Megan Holton will try to extend their careers Saturday. Holton will have at least one more game to play after this weekend. She was recently named an All-Star from District 2.
n New Hope 11, West Point 0: Anna McCrary, Anna Holley, Brandi Brantley, and Ashley Boyle had RBIs in a five-run first inning to help the Lady Trojans earn their Class 5A, Region 1 victory.
Lauren Holifield, Morgan Hardin, D.J Sanders (two RBIs), Haley Tutor (two doubles), Empress Shirley (double), Anna Hodson, and Kasey Stanfield had hits for New Hope.
Kelsi Ewing, Ashli Coggins, and Brook Robinson had hits for West Point.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.