Lady Gladiators dominate Dawson to remain in district hunt

Image: Cori & Casi — Sisters Cori and Cassi Jeffords did their part to help the Lady Gladiators overtake the Dawson Lady Bulldogs Friday in Dawson.

Cori & Casi — Sisters Cori and Cassi Jeffords did their part to help the Lady Gladiators overtake the Dawson Lady Bulldogs Friday in Dawson. (Barry Byers)

Dawson — While Dawson’s dugout relied on the chirping of crickets to stay fired-up, Italy’s side of the field was energetic, enthusiastic, and extremely noisy. Italy’s batters hit their targets over and over in an effort to win a giant, stuffed Bulldog for head coach Jennifer Reeves.

In the 1st inning, both sides jabbed at one another like two prize fighters, threatening to deliver the big blow. Italy’s first batter, Courtney Westbrook, was struck on her pitching hand while at the plate but was not awarded the base. Westbrook regained her composure and took the mound moments later, managing to keep the Bulldogs oFf the scoreboard to end the 1st.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Italy’s Anna Viers got on base with a single. Bailey Bumpus earned an RBI with a hit to right field, scoring Viers to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Italy’s defense hangs tough to keep the Bulldogs penned up, holding on to their 1-0 advantage.

In the top of the 3rd, Drew Windham made it on base with a single. Moments later, Alyssa Richards registered an RBI bunt, sort of, to score Windham giving the Lady Gladiators a 2-0 edge. A brilliant move by Coach Reeves to call for the squeeze play and A. Richards did the rest.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Dawson reminded the Lady Gladiators that this backyard belonged to the Bulldogs and tied the score 2-2.

To start the top of the 4th, Italy quickly loaded the bases against Dawson. Windham hit into an out at first base but earned an RBI when Bumpus crossed home, 3-2 with Italy back in front.

With 2 outs and Alma Suaste on third base and Westbrook on second, Italy popped up to third base allowing Dawson to escape the inning before any serious damage was done.

In the bottom of the 4th, Dawson rallied again getting a runner to second base. With two outs against them, the Bulldogs double into right field to knot the score 3-3. With a runner again on second, shortstop Anna Viers secures a pop-up to get Italy out of the inning.

With the bases loaded in the top of the 5th inning, Bumpus crushed a triple into right field. The blast scored Viers, Meredith Brummett and Cori Jeffords to give Italy a 6-3 lead. A few pitches later, Bumpus stole home on a high pitch over the Bulldog catcher’s head to increase Italy’s lead to 7-3.

Next up, Suaste, who fouled-tipped to the Bulldog catcher who made a nice grab to hand Italy their 2nd out. Italy’s Westbrook walks to first base and Windham singles to put runners on first and second for the Lady Gladiators. A. Richards capped off the top of the 5th with a double as Italy built a 10-3 lead.

In the bottom of the 5th, Italy’s third baseman Megan Richards switches with Westbrook to give the starter a chance to rest her sore hand. M. Richards strikes out Dawson’s lead-off batter but the Bulldogs’ next two batters get to first and second base. Dawson singles to score one of the runners making the score 10-4.

With runners again on first and second base, Dawson hits a 2-run triple to make the score 10-6. Initially, the Dawson runner is called safe at third by sliding under the tag by Westbrook. Coach Reeves forces the umpires to discuss the ruling and the call is changed to out number 3. Damage had been done, however, and the score was now 10-6 in Italy’s favor.

Going into the top of the 6th, Italy’s dugout cranked up the intensity of their chatters and cheers as Westbrook singled to get things started. With Windham up to bat, the Bulldog catcher tries to catch Westbrook napping at first. The throw is errant allowing Westbrook to advance to second base. Windham goes down swinging but M. Richards bloops a single into right field to pour more fuel on the fired-up Italy dugout. Westbrook is now on third base.

A. Richards follows her big sister with a double to score Westbrook. The Lady Gladiator at bat ends with Viers grounding out to the pitcher’s mound. However, Italy establishes an 11-6 cushion moving into the bottom of the 7th.

With Dawson desperate to, at least, tie the game in order to extend the contest, Westbrook returns to the mound after a rousing speech from Coach Reeves, imploring the Lady Gladiators to finish strong.

Dawson’s first batter hits a pop-up to M. Richards at third base who makes the catch for out number one. Dawson’s second batter hits a grounder to third base and the throw from M. Richards to Windham on first beats the Bulldog for out number two. Dawson’s third batter hits a pop-up to Jeffords on second base who fades back to make the grab near the fringe for out number three.

Italy gets three up, three down to retire the side and secure an 11-6 victory over Dawson, improving the Lady Gladiators’ district record to 4-1.

“After the loss to Hubbard, we have found a new focus. This win is the direct result of hard practices the team has put in over the past couple of weeks. We earned this one before the game even started,” said a proud Coach Reeves.

The Lady Gladiators will rematch the above mentioned Hubbard Lady Jaguars on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. in Italy. The winner will take sole control of 1st place in district. Note: The 7:00 p.m. Hubbard game is a time change not reflected on the schedule.

Looking good, Ladies!