Lady Pacer softball year ends with sectional loss to North Decatur

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The Switzerland County Lady Pacer softball team ended its season on Tuesday night with a tough, 2-0 loss to the North Decatur Lady Chargers in Sectional play.

Switzerland County collected only two hits on the night, but had some early opportunities to push across a run.

In the bottom of the first, Courtney Cole singled with two outs and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Amber Smith was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on, but the Lady Pacers couldn’t get the timely hit it needed.

It would be the theme of the entire game.

North Decatur also had its chances early, but freshman hurler Becky Turner and some stingy defense kept the score knotted at 0-0.

In the top of the second the Lady Pacers appeared to get a spark defensively after a North Decatur runner singled and advanced to second on an error by right fielder Morgan Ross. The runner then advanced to third on a ground out to the right side, and the Lady Chargers had their first scoring threat.

That got quickly erased when Switzerland County catcher Tanya Sefton fired a bullet down to third baseman Rachel Rodgers, who slapped the tag on the unsuspecting North Decatur runner for the out.

North Decatur assembled another scoring threat in the third when a Lady Charger doubled to right center and then advanced to third on a ground out back to Becky Turner.

The freshman pitcher didn’t get rattled, however, as she struck out the next batter and then coaxed the next batter into a groundout to end the inning.

Switzerland County again mounted a threat in the bottom of the third, when Morgan Ross singled through the middle and then stole second. After Tanya Sefton was out trying to bunt her teammate over, Morgan Ross did advance to third on a ground out by Rachel Rodgers.

Courtney Cole then hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop, who threw her out on a close play at first to end the inning.

In the top of the fourth, North Decatur got a runner on first with two outs, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. That was as far as she would advance, however, as the next batter grounded to second baseman Amber Smith for the final out.

The bottom of the fourth saw Amber Smith walk, and then advance to second on a wild pitch. After another out she moved to third on another wild pitch, but again Switzerland County couldn’t get the big two out hit that it needed to plate a run.

Both teams got runners to second base in the fifth inning, but again both pitchers settled down and got their teams out of the jam.

North Decatur broke the scoring drought in the top of the sixth, when the leadoff batter laid down a bunt that Becky Turner couldn’t handle for an error.

The next batter also bunted, and catcher Tanya Sefton’s throw sailed over the first baseman’s head. Right fielder Morgan Ross backed up the throw, but the lead runner still advanced to third to put runners on the corners with no outs.

The runner on first then stole second; and that set up one of the more bizarre plays of the sectional.

With runners on second and third and two strikes on the batter, Becky Turner fired in the third strike, which Tanya Sefton caught and attempted to throw to third to pick the runner off.

But as the North Decatur batter exited the batter’s box after being called out on strikes, Tanya Sefton’s throw caromed off of the batter’s helmet and over near the third base dugout.

Both runners scored on the play, but the umpires ruled batter interference and sent both runners back to their respective bases.

It was a bullet that the Lady Pacers would only dodge temporarily.

The next batter singled past second baseman Amber Smith to plate the game’s first run; and after a North Decatur batter struck out, Tanya Sefton couldn’t corral the pitch, and when she threw to first to retire the batter, the runner on third raced home with the game’s second run.

Amber Smith got Switzerland County’s second hit of the game in the top of the sixth and she was replaced by courtesy runner Megan McCarty.

The junior speedster then attempted to steal second, but a pin point throw and some blocking of the bag by the second baseman resulted in Megan McCarty being called out on the attempt.

That would be the last time that the Lady Pacers would mount any sort of a scoring threat, as Switzerland County finished off the game in the bottom of the seventh with a strikeout, a pop up to the pitcher, and a ground ball back to the pitcher.

North Decatur advanced to the sectional championship game versus Southwestern, which was to be played on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Lady Pacer Field.

North Decatur finished with two runs on four hits and had one error; while Switzerland County had no runs on just two hits and committed three costly errors.