Dixie Belles knocked out of World Series
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A hard-fought run for a Dixie Softball World Series title ended Monday night in Alexandria, La., for the Hartselle Belles All-Stars as they came up on the short end of an 8-1 score against a strong South Carolina team. The loss was only the second the team incurred during postseason play. It swept through district and state competition with a 10-0 record.
With a 2-2 World Series record Hartselle's players finished in a tie for fifth place in a field of 12 teams. They received individual trophies and medallions to commemorate their achievement. Meghan Stephenson, Dallas Sneer, Breanna Riley and Meaghan Gray were recognized as "Most Valuable Player" of Games 1 through 4, respectively.
South Carolina's players never trailed in the game after coming up with two runs in the first inning. They added a pair of runs in the third and four more in the sixth.
Hartselle's only run came in the second inning. Hayden Watts reached base on an error, stole second and scored on the team's only hit, a double by Meghan Stephenson.
Gray pitched six innings for Hartselle and was tagged with the loss. She allowed five hits while striking out four batters and walking four.
Hartselle's all-stars found a new lease on life Sunday after suffering a disappointing, error-plagued opening game loss to the host team on Saturday.
They bounced back from an 11-10 setback to win their next two games back-to-back the following day in the losers' bracket. In a noon game, they forced Arkansas to concede to a 21-0 deficit after scoring 15 runs in the first inning and adding six more in the second. Six hours later they defeated Texas 4-2 and earned the right to meet South Carolina on Monday at 6 p.m. in another loser-goes-home contest.
In the opening game, Alexandria overcame a 10-7 deficit by putting four runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh inning. The winning run was scored on a wild pitch.
Hartselle trailed 4-2 after four innings but came up with six runs in the top of the fifth to take an 8-4 lead. The next inning proved to be costly for Hartselle as Alexandria rallied for three runs and catcher Leah Dobbins went down with a knee injury and had to sit out the next three games.
Six Hartselle players accounted for eight hits. Chelsea Fagan led the way with a double and single, Stephenson and Snell each had a pair of singles, Dobbins doubled and Jacquie Shadden added a single.
Riley pitched three innings and was credited with the loss. She allowed two hits while striking out five batters and walking two. Danielle Carden came on in relieve and pitched four innings. She allowed eight hits while striking out two and walking one.
Hartselle collected 11 hits and nine walks in the two-inning contest with Arkansas.
Gray pitched the first inning and was credited with the win. She allowed no hits, no walks and struck out two batters. Snell pitched the second inning. She allowed two hits while striking out two batters and walking one.
Hartselle hitters were Alex Paulsen and Snell, each with a double and single, Carden and Stephenson each with a pair of singles, and Gray, Shadden and Katie Salverson each with a single.
In Sunday's second game, Hartselle grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a double by Fagan, a single by Watts and a base interference call by the umpire. Another run was scored in the fifth on a two-base throwing error to give Hartselle a 3-0 advantage. Texas rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 3-2 and Hartselle answered with a single run in the top of the seventh to go up by two.
Hartselle hitters were Watts with a pair of singles, Fagan with a double and Gray with a single.
Riley pitched seven innings and was credited with the win. She allowed three hits while striking out 14 batters and walking two.