Tornadoes survive scare with 7th inning rally
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 12:09 a.m.
STARKE — Down to their final two outs, the Class 4A No. 2 Bradford Tornadoes saw their promising softball season on the brink.
But as it has done numerous times this season, Bradford found a way. And its bats came alive.
Sophomore Jordan Davis lined a double down the left-field line with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs for the game-winner as the Tornadoes pulled off a
dramatic 3-2 win over South Sumter in the Region 2 quarterfinals.
With the victory, its eighth straight, Bradford (26-2) will host District 5 rival Keystone Heights in Tuesday's regional semifinals. The Tornadoes, who edged the Indians (4-3) in the district tournament final a week ago, have never advanced past the regional semifinals.
“It is just their mentality when they get their backs against the wall and they focus a little more,” said Bradford coach Daniel Davis. “I think that is part of them being very young. There are no seniors on this team. I hope we can figure that out by Tuesday.”
Raiders pitcher Morgan Mobley was effective in getting a lot of pop-fly outs against Bradford, which had seven through five innings. But the seventh was different.
After leadoff batter Jaci Atkinson grounded out, freshman Annie Luke singled up the
middle, and sophomores Taylor Cruce and Lainie Rodgers followed up with singles themselves to load the bases.
Davis then took the first pitch and ripped it over third base, out of the reach of fielder Kala
Thompson, and erupting the home crowd.
“It doesn't always happen like that,” Davis said. “I just calmed my arms and my body and was looking for a good pitch. If you get tense, you can't hit.
“We hit her (Mobley), but we had a lot of pop ups too. We came back in the seventh and stroked it that inning.”
Meanwhile Bradford pitcher Ashton Adkins (24-1) scattered seven hits, including three doubles, but got out of a jam in the seventh after South Sumter's Monica Arnold doubled with two outs.
Both teams scored a run in the second for a 1-1 tie. The score stayed that way until the top of the sixth, when the Raiders (9-12) got back-to-back doubles from Ashley Kimble and Kylie
Jessmer to take a 2-1 lead.
“Our backs were against the wall and we really didn't have any choice but to try and back our pitcher who pitched an absolute great game,” Luke said. “We had no other choice but try to win. I really thought Ashton pitched great there in the seventh after giving up that double.”
“This was the best game my girls played all season,” said South Sumter coach Heather Kadur. “I am very proud of them. They played with their hearts and have nothing to hang their head about. Technically, we were winning the game until the last inning.”
A year ago, Bradford's season ended at Keystone Heights in the regional semifinals. Davis knows it is difficult to beat a team four times, but to advance to the team's first regional final the Tornadoes will have to beat the Indians again.
“They definitely had more focus in the seventh,” Davis said. “I stressed to them they need to have that same focus in the other innings.”
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS 2, MOUNT DORA 1: At Mount Dora, senior pitcher Kelsey Waters struck out 11 and had a double in the fourth inning, where the Indians scored both of their runs, as Keystone Heights held on to beat the host Hurricanes and advance to its second straight regional semifinal.
The Indians (12-11) will face District 5 rival Bradford in Starke on Tuesday. Keystone Heights has lost all three meetings against the Tornadoes, the latest a 4-3 setback in the final of the district tournament.
With one out in the fourth, the Indians got three straight hits against Mount Dora, including Waters' double, to load the bases. A Hurricane error led to Keystone scoring its two runs.
“They had a couple of mental errors which we took advantage of,” said Indians coach Belinda Phillips. “In the first inning we left a runner on third.”
Last year, Keystone beat Bradford en route to reaching the state tournament.
“Last year's team was very close-knit and energetic, that drive was there,” Phillips said. “You didn't have to push them. This year's team I have had to push all season. It is just a different group. We have also had a lot of errors in the field.
“The girls want it (rematch with Bradford). We have nothing to lose. We can't have the errors and we need to put the ball in play. Our record shows we have struggled this year. The girls can do it, they just have to put their minds to it.”