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Hamilton wins playing small ball


Don Rowe, Special to The Dispatch



HAMILTON -- Good coaches aren''t afraid to adjust their strategy when things aren''t going according to plan. 


So it wasn''t surprising to see Hamilton High School coach Jason Cobb try something different Friday afternoon in the second game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A fast-pitch softball playoffs. 


Leading one game in a best-of-three series with East Union and locked in a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth, Cobb elected to play small ball en route to a 7-3 win. 


Hamilton manufactured four runs in the fateful sixth with only one ball leaving the infield, a leadoff double by Lyndsey Williams on a ball that sailed over the head of the Lady Urchins'' left fielder. Two East Union errors, a passed ball, a pair of fielder''s choice situations and two bunts later, the Lady Lions secured a 7-3 lead and punched their ticket for a second-round match-up at Eupora on Thursday. 


"When you''re struggling to hit the ball like we were, sometimes it works out well if you go to another part of your game," said Cobb, whose team matched East Union''s hit total of six but committed five errors.  


Alison Atkins came in to run for Williams following her clutch two-bagger, moved to third on a passed ball and broke the tie on Shelby Savage''s fielder''s choice after a bang-bang play at the plate. 


Chauncia Willis, who reached on a fielder''s choice when Savage beat the throw to second, gave way to courtesy runner Addie Thompson to put runners at first and second. Taylor Hyland then dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third-base line, but an errant throw to first scored Savage and Thompson. 


After a fly out, Raimi Bryan followed with another perfect bunt to move Hyland to second, who then scored when Caitlyn Atkins reached on an East Union throwing error to first. 


"This is no knock on East Union, because they are the best defensive team we''ve played this season, but we tend to struggle against slower pitchers," said Cobb. "Throw someone in the mid to upper-50s against us and we''ll get 12-15 hits a game, but we just don''t do well against slower pitching. Our timing was off the whole series, so we had to do something different to generate some runs." 


Anna Imel went 3 2/3 innings in the cricle for Hamilton and left with a 3-2 lead. Savage came on and gave up the tying run in the fifth, but picked up the win thanks to the four-run sixth-inning rally. 


The Lady Lions broke on top in the bottom of the second thanks to a Savage double, a fielder''s choice by Hyland and an RBI groundout by Cheyenne Logan, but East Union tied the game with two runs in the top of the third. 


Hamilton then regained the lead in the bottom of the third on a Caitlyn Atkins'' double and an RBI single by Williams, only to once again give up the tying run in the top of the fifth. 


Williams was the lone Lady Lion starter credited with multiple hits (single and double), as Katie Beth Dahlem (single), Atkins (double) and Savage (double) rounded out the six-hit Hamilton attack. 


Savage and Hyland both scored twice, while Atkins, Williams and Thompson all crossed the plate once each. 


n Hamilton 6, East Union 1: Shelby Savage flipped an impressive four-hitter in a route-going performance from the mound to lead Hamilton to a 6-1 win in Thursday''s best-of-three opener at East Union. 


Savage kept the Lady Urchins at bay for six of seven innings, but lost her shutout bid in the fifth on a walk, a hit batter and an RBI single by Heather Dillard. 


"Shelby threw very effectively," said Cobb. "Other than the fifth, she never faced more than three or four batters in any one inning." 


A two-spot in the top of the first proved to be the only runs Hamilton would need, as a lead-off triple by Caitlyn Atkins, a walk to Katie Beth Dahlem and a two-run double down the left field line by Lyndsey Williams produced a 2-0 lead. 


Two innings later, Williams picked up her third RBI with a shot past shortstop to score Anna Imel, who led off the inning with a single. 


Hamilton added two more in the sixth when Chauncia Willis and Taylor Hyland reached on an error and a fielder''s choice respectively. Alison Atkins came in to run for Willis and scored on Cheyenne Logan''s single to left-centerfield and then Hyland scored on a sacrifice bunt by Raimi Bryan. 


Williams added her fourth RBI in the seventh on a single which scored Imel. 


Imel (three singles) and Williams (two singles and a double) combined for six of Hamilton''s nine hits, as Logan chipped in with a pair of singles and Atkins added a triple. Imel also scored twice. 




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