HED:Subway's bats make the difference
By Bobby Pepper
Lee County's Subway softball team played its typical game in the ASA Girls 18-and-Under Slow-Pitch National Tournament Thursday night: it committed a lot of errors, but made up for it with a lot of hitting.
Subway overcame eight errors with a 24-hit attack to beat the Atlanta Starz 23-20 in its first game of qualifying pool play at Tupelo's Eastwood Complex.
"Our defense let us down, but our bats kept bringing us back," Subway coach Pete Malone said. "I'm proud of them for not giving up."
The tournament began Thursday with action in six "pools" featuring four teams each. Pool competition resumes at 9 a.m. today to determine the seedings for the double-elimination playoff starting at 7 tonight.
The tournament opening ceremonies are at 6 p.m. today.
Subway is one of two Lee County squads serving as host teams. The three-time state champion Talking Phone Book Lady Noles defeated the Bullets from Missouri 11-3.
Lacy Malone and April Hicks had five hits each to lead Subway's offensive show in the Pool D slugfest. Malone capped it in the seventh inning with a three-run homer over the temporary center field fence - 250 feet from home plate - on Bush Field.
Down 16-15 through five innings, Subway roared back against its Texas opponent with five runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh. Subway scored in every inning while the Starz reached home in each frame except the first.
Pete Malone said the win reflected his team's play this summer.
"Our leading hitters have hit the ball well all year," he said. "We've got a very explosive offense. Our defense is weak in areas because we've got girls playing out of position from where they need to be."
Subway led 8-0 through an inning and a half, but its errors six in the fourth allowed Atlanta to recover. The Starz scored six runs in the fourth to force a 13-13 tie before going ahead 16-15 in the fifth.
Subway turned around in the sixth to capitalize on Atlanta's miscues. Casey Clouse, Lacy Malone and Hicks got hits and then four straight Starz errors followed, setting up five Subway runs for a 23-17 lead.
The Starz, which had 26 hits, got three more runs in the seventh but Subway held on for the victory. Subway's Lacee Wilburn was the winning pitcher.
The Lady Noles, who finished ninth at last year's nationals, began Pool E play by shutting out the Bullets until the bottom of the seventh. Debralee Jefcoat was the winning pitcher.
Dreka Shumpert, Paige Armstrong and Angela Ard had two hits each for the Lady Noles, who took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never trailed.
Both Lee County teams play at 11:30 a.m. in their final pool games. The Lady Noles take on the Bobcats from Georgia on Noble Field and Subway plays the Marshall County (Ky.) Sluggers on Paslay Field.
In other action involving Mississippi teams, College Park of Lauderdale County went nine innings to beat Team Express of Minnesota 10-9.
The Topsy Tornadoes of Pontotoc fell to the Coasters of Georgia 26-0, the Natchez Lady Bombers lost to Bryant Express of Arkansas 7-5 and the Bobcats beat the Survivors from Meridian 27-4.
There will be a new national champion this year.Tournament director Nancy Webb said last year's winner, the Lady Panthers from Lilburn, Ga., qualified for the tourney but withdrew Tuesday when it could not get enough players to make the trip to Tupelo.