March 19, 2014 9:59:00 AM
Caledonia High School fast-pitch softball coach Robin Elmore has a checklist of items she wants her team to accomplish every game.
Elmore wants to the Lady Confederates to throw strikes, to make the routine plays on defense and on offense, and to put the ball in play consistently.
Elmore was able to check off each category Tuesday night in a 12-3 victory against Columbus 12-3 at Lady Falcon Field. The game will help Caledonia (3-3) enter Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 play Thursday night with momentum.
"We're excited about starting region play because we know we can be a good team," Caledonia pitcher Hope Burton said. "It is all about doing the little things and being fundamentally sound. When we don't make mistakes, we feel like we can be in position to win most games."
Leading 1-0, Caledonia broke the game open by scoring six runs in the third inning. The Lady Confederates had four base hits in that at-bat and capitalized on four walks and an error.
"Coach is always stressing us to take advantage of the other team's mistakes," Caledonia center fielder Morgan Smith said. "That is why we had the big inning tonight. It is one thing to get runners on base. It is another thing to make sure we get some hits. We had some really good, timely hits."
The big blow was a two-run single by Gracie McCleskey. Caledonia paved the way for the big inning by bunting five times in the first two innings.
"The biggest thing is putting pressure on the other team," Elmore said. "We have some speed, so we will play a lot of small ball this year. When you get into the really big games toward the end of the season, you have to advance the runners. We had a couple of bunts go right back to the pitcher tonight. That is not good. But we did a lot of things well. We put the pressure on them early, and that is how we built the lead."
Caledonia had 12 hits and showed consistency and balance up and down the lineup. Smith, Burton, Stephanie Wilkes,and Alex Burns each had multiple hits.
"We had been waiting to put together a big inning (like the third)," Burton said. "We had some really good at-bats. I thought we had some good patience, too (seven walks). We need to get more consistent in the circle."
Burton started at pitcher. With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, Burton gave the ball to Smith, who finished the game. The duo allowed two hits. Columbus broke up the shutout by scoring twice in the third.
Caledonia answered with three runs in the fourth, including a run-producing hit by Burns and two of Columbus' five errors.
"This team is really beginning to play well together," Smith said. "We know we have the potential. We just have to put it all together on a regular basis. Some of the new girls have really stepped up and are hitting the ball well. It's our job as pitchers and on defense to make plays."
Caledonia will kick off play in its six-team region Thursday when it plays host to West Lauderdale.
"West Lauderdale is a traditional power," Elmore said. "This is the first time in a couple of years they are back in our district, so there will be some things we don't know about them. The good news is there will also be some things about us they don't know."
n Columbus 7, Madison Central 5, nine innings: At Madison, the Falcons kicked off Class 6A, Region 3 play by rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and scoring one run in the eighth and two more in the ninth to improve to 12-0 and 1-0 in the region.
The Falcons had eight hits and survived four errors. Madison Central also committed four errors.
Chris McCullough and Gavonta Webb had two hits, while Webb and Michael Sturdivant had two RBIs.
Trace Lee struck out 11 in seven innings. Hunter Mullis struck out two in two innings.
n New Albany 2, New Hope 1, eight innings: At New Albany, the Trojans (9-1) suffered their first loss in the extra-innings defeat.
New Hope had only five hits but couldn't capitalize on seven walks.
n Heritage Academy 8, Pillow Academy 4: At Greenwood, Jared Thorton had three hits and two RBIs and Mark Thatcher added three hits to help the Patriots improve to 6-7.
Jace Caldwell struck out six in five innings. Thomas Cooper pitched the final two innings.
n Jackson Academy 7, Starkville Academy 1: At Jackson, Harper Arnold and Drake Gordman had two hits Tuesday for the Volunteers.
Caleb Griffin and Landen Rogers pitched for Starkville Academy.
n In other scores, Northwest Rankin defeated Starkville 6-0 in the Class 6A, Region 3 opener for both teams. The Yellow Jackets had only two hits.
n Drew Myatt had two home runs to lead Hebron Christian to a 15-4 victory against Central Academy in Macon.
n Caledonia 5, South Lamar 1: Caleb Brown struck out 10 and allowed only one hit in six innings to help the Confederates improve to 7-2.
Jantsen Glasgow had two hits, and Alex Spears, Cole Gullette, Chase Farrish, and Will Sudduth had RBIs for the Confederates.
Blake Burke pitched the final inning for Caledonia.
n Heritage Academy defeats Starkville Academy: At Columbus, the Patriots beat the Volunteers Tuesday at Magnolia Tennis Club.
At No. 1 girls singles, Lauren Pole defeated Sallie M Passins 6-0, 6-1. At No. 2 girls singles, Payton Riley beat Mary E. Winfield 6-0, 6-0.
At No. 1 girls doubles, Natalie Hardy and Ally Rhett defeated Kacey Favor and Bell Hester 6-1, 6-0. At. No. 2 girls doubles, Sydney Ellis and Taylor Dalrymple beat Shelby Marsh and Shelby Pellum 6-2, 6-3.
At No. 1 boys singles, Haydyn Peel lost to Will Christianson 6-3, 1-6, 1-0. At No. 2 boys singles, Mason Cline lost to Jamison Mckee 6-1,6-1. At No. 1 boys doubles, Thomas Glenn and Jack Ellis lost to Seth Lee and Daniel Chung 6-1, 6-3. At No. 2 boys doubles, Mattox Heredia and Tyner Swedenburg lost to Jack Burton and Jake Goodwin 6-2, 6-4.
In mixed doubles, Kirby James and Patrick Mallory defeated Susannah Cox and Nathan Pallan 6-0, 6-0.
Heritage Academy will play Thursday at Oak Hill Academy.
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter