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With Amber Richardson's solo bomb in the sixth and a mighty rally in the seventh, Chiefland girls overcame a three-run deficit to top Taylor County 5-4. For all the game's thrilling rigor, the Lady Indians never should have trailed, having thrashed the Bulldogs 17-0 on their last visit to Perry.
“I think we took them lightly, and we should never do that,” said Chiefland head coach Wayne Weatherford.
Richardson had the best night hitting, going 2-4 with the homer, and driving in the winning run. She was also the starting pitcher, but had a tougher time on the mound. Weatherford praised her performance, saying, “it really looked to me like Amber was hitting most of her spots,” but by the sixth inning, Richardson was high in her pitch counts and Brittany Davis came in to close.
The real problem, though, was that even though Chiefland got on base easily and often, they couldn't seem to get on home, leaving Indian baserunners stranded. Taylore Fuller took a walk in the first inning and stole home for Chiefland's first score, but then no more runs were forthcoming.
Holly Eakins reached on a single to left in the third inning, and came home to tie the game up. Courtney Valentine scored in the fourth inning, and Eakins scored again, to put the Bulldogs up 3-1. Korie Wilson made it 4-1 in the fourth inning for Taylor, and the atmosphere on the Indians' home field grew tense.
Davis entered in the top of the fifth and killed Taylor's momentum with her off-speed stuff. In the bottom half of the inning, the Indians' dugout rumbled with the beginnings of a rally. Davis and Fuller took nice cuts, but the Taylor fielders got under them. Then Richardson stepped up with two out and none on and stroked a shot that rattled into the branches of the giant oak behind the center field fence. No more runs scored that inning, but Chiefland was finally ready to roll.
Holding off the Bulldogs in the top of the seventh, the Indians returned to the plate. Kristen Trail drew a walk and Charissa Morris followed her on with a single. Amie Biehl cracked a single past short to load the bases. Davis returned to the plate and smacked a line drive single to score Hayley Gerhardt, Trail's pinch-runner. The throw home sailed high and caromed off the backstop, and Morris tiptoed home to tie the game. Fuller walked again, and moments later, Richardson returned to the plate to smash one last ball up the middle, scoring Biehl and ending the game in a Chiefland win.
Weatherford was gratified that his team found a way to win after digging a hole for themselves.
“The girls recognize what they did wrong, and I'm glad we were able to pull it out,” he said.
Chiefland also knocked out district opponent Ft. White to sweep that series. Ft. White is still without Taylor Douglass, the dominating freshman hurler who helped carry the team into regionals last year. Thursday, the blue Indians went up north to play red Indians and beat them 6-1. Davis had plenty left in the tank Thursday after facing only eight Taylor County batters Tuesday night, and went the distance against Ft. White. Chiefland got the job done with two runs in the third and four in the fifth.
In the third inning, Shelbie Hastings got on with a walk and Biehl followed with a single. Fuller drove them both in. In the fifth inning, Davis singled and Fuller walked, and it was Richardson whose two-RBI double brought them home. Kristen Trailer walked on, then came home on odds and ends for the final run.
Lady Indians travel to P.K. Yonge today at 6 p.m. for a rematch. Chiefland won the first round, and was the only team in the first half of the season to beat the Blue Wave. The Indians won with a nearly flawless game, with tight defense behind Davis' pitching.
“Now they've seen everything we have, so we'll see how that turns out,” said Weatherford.