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Lady Lions defeat McClain in extra-inning thriller

Lead Summary
LEESBURG — The undefeated start by the Fairfield Lady Lions continued on Saturday, but it wasn't easy, defeating the McClain Lady Tigers, 2-1 in eight innings at Fairfield High School.

The game was a pitchers' duel, with Lauren Larrick taking the circle for the Lady Lions and Megan Dettwiller pitching for the Lady Tigers.

Though it was a pitchers' duel, it was runs scored in the seventh and eighth innings that proved to be the difference of the game.

"We haven't had the chance to play small ball as much this season as we wanted to, but we are a small ball team," FHS head coach Matthew Zimmerman said. "We coach small ball all the way through training camp, and (Saturday) it proved to be what this team is all about.

"We do the things needed to win games. Lauren was down on herself because we didn't make a play … she took it on her shoulders. None of us let down, and that was the key to this year versus last year. We come back and get the base hit we needed to win the game."

Fairfield (7-0) led 1-0 for a majority of the game after Heather Huff scored on a sacrifice fly by Abby Thackston in the first inning, but in the top of the seventh, the Lady Tigers tied the score at one, taking advantage of miscues by the Lady Lions.

Jenna Perie led off the seventh by taking two bases on a error by the FHS infield, as the ball ended up in centerfield.

MHS (8-3) followed with Perie stealing third base, and she scored on a dropped third strike by FHS, as Cierra Landrum beat the throw to first, tying the score at one.

"We played tough," MHS head coach Jarrod Haines said. "That was probably one of our best defensive games of the year. We faced a good pitcher and had no errors.

"Fairfield is a good team, and they have a lot of seniors. We came and hit the ball. We hit the ball well, but we just hit it right at them. Like I told the girls in the huddle, that's what happens when you have a lead-off walk at the start of the game and it scores."

FHS had an opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the seventh, with Shelby Smithson starting the FHS half of the inning with a double. Jade Shelton put Smith on third with a sacrifice bunt, but that wasn't enough as Smithson was left stranded at third.

Smithson finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Also finishing 2-for-3 for FHS was Kortney Paris.

But it was the Lady Lions who showed they were able to win games in many different ways, taking the lead and the win in the bottom of the eighth.

Thackston hit a one-out base hit to right field. Thackston scored in the next at-bat when Whitney Hanenkrat doubled to left-center field, with Thackston scoring from first base.

Thackston was greeted by Larrick with a hug at home plate, and Hanenkrat was mobbed by her teammates as she walked toward third base, as the Lady Lions celebrated the win.

"Greenfield is a great match-up for us," FHS assistant coach Tom Purtell said. "They never gave up. They never gave up and made plays offensively they need to stay in the game.

"The thing about it is you never give up. We're confident if we can stay in the game long enough, with Lauren on the mound … we are going to find a way to win."

Larrick was the winning pitcher, gaining her seventh win of the season in seven games. Larrick (7-0) pitched eight innings, allowing one run (none earned) on two hits and one walk. She finished with five strikeouts, her 70th of the season.

In one stretch of the game (second through sixth innings), Larrick and the FHS defense retired 15 of 16 batters.

Zimmerman praised the defense of the Lady Lions following the game.

"Our defense was fantastic," he said. "We made one mistake at the end, but other than that, it was great. Kylie (Bates) mde a close catch on a ball that was tailing away from her in the outfield. We made several good outs in the infield, and we fielded a couple bunts.

"It was the little things. The little things are what wins ball games."

The loss was charged to Dettwiller. Dettwiller, making her first start in recent games, allowed two runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks. Dettwiller finished with 10 strikeouts.

"Megan has been hurt, and she's been wanting to know what she hasn't been pitching," Haines said. "She did a great job. We just had one mistake at the end."

"We were patient with (Megan) Dettwiller. She's a smart pitcher and locates well," Purtell said.

Haines spoke about missed opportunities by the Lady Tigers, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth inning. In the inning, with two outs, Wise doubled, and Dettwiller walked. Perie loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch, but a strikeout ended the inning.

"We had opportunities with the bases loaded … but that has been our story all year long," Haines said "There's no excuse … we have to come back in that situation. They did and we didn't, and that was the difference."

Gaining hits for MHS were Frankie Wise and Perie, both doubles.

FHS left five runners on base, and the Lady Tigers stranded six.

MHS    000 000 10 — 1 2 0
FHS     100 000 01 — 2 7 1[[In-content Ad]]

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