Bates had a kidney stone, but toughed it out to coach the Lady Wildcats to a 17-1 victory in five innings. It was the season opener for both teams.
“I thought we played well,” Bates said. “We’ve been hitting the ball real well in practice, and I had a feeling we’d hit the ball well today. We had a few mental things, but for the first game of the season, I was proud of the way we played, especially with the weather being cold.”
As Bates said, even with the temperature below 40 degrees at first pitch, that didn’t seem to bother the Lady Wildcats’ (1-0) bats. They sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning and tagged Cedar Bluff starter Kaitlyn Kilgro for seven runs.
To make matters worse for the Lady Tigers (0-1), junior shortstop Katie McGinnis suffered an injury to her right hand on a sharply hit ball in the first inning.
McGinnis had to leave the game and went to a local hospital to have it looked at as a precaution. She returned following the game with her hand wrapped, but said no bones appeared to be broken.
“Hopefully, she’s all right,” Cedar Bluff coach Shane McFry said. “The kids look up to her, and when they see her hurt and see her out of the game, that kind of deflates any momentum you think you might can have.”
Kilgro gave way in the second inning for reliever Aubie Dodd, but Sand Rock kept adding to its lead. The Lady Wildcats tacked on three more runs in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Cedar Bluff scored its lone run in the fourth. Kilgro sent a sharply hit ball over the head of right fielder Hannah Oliver off Sand Rock reliever Madalyn Oliver and strolled into second with two outs. Kilgro later scored on an illegal pitch.
Morgan picked up the win for the Lady Wildcats. She tossed two innings, giving up no hits with three strikeouts. Madalyn Oliver went the final three innings, giving up an unearned run with a walk and four strikeouts.
“McKenna came in and did real well, and I wanted to go ahead and get Madalyn some game experience too,” Bates said. “This is her first year to be up with varsity. I thought both our pitchers did a good job hitting their spots and locating the ball well.”
Hannah Oliver had three hits and drove in five runs for Sand Rock. Morgan also had three hits, including a two-run triple. Megan McCullough had four hits and drove in a run. Kelsey Hayes had a pair of doubles and drove in two runs.
“We didn’t come to play like we should,” McFry said. “We just kicked it around early, and against a good team like Sand Rock, you can’t do that. They’ve got too many good hitters and his pitcher (Morgan) is really good. When you make mistakes early, before you know it, you’ve given up a big inning and you kind of take yourself out early. From that point on, you just work on the little things and try to get better in small steps.”
Sand Rock 15, Gaston 3
Sand Rock advanced to the final of the Tri-County Baseball Tournament with a 15-3 win over Gaston on Thursday.
Chandler Mackey and Zane Farrar each had two hits and two RBI for the Wildcats (3-1). Dylan Mackey contributed an RBI-single.
Perry Stevens got the win, striking out four in 4 1⁄3 innings.
Sand Rock will face Ranburne on Friday at Spring Garden at 4 p.m. in the championship game.
Sand Rock defeated Ranburne 8-6 earlier in the tournament. Austin Chambers earned the win after working 3 1/3 innings. Ethan Jimmerson tossed the next 2 1/3. Dylan Mackey finished the game. The trio combined for 10 strikeouts.
Dylan Mackey, Jimmerson and Farrar all had a double and a RBI apiece. Isaac Arnold added a single.
Cedar Bluff 12, Cherokee County 2
CEDAR BLUFF – C.J. Gilreath tossed four innings, allowing just three hits with five strikeouts in leading the Cedar Bluff Tiger baseball team to a 12-2 win in five innings over Cherokee County on Thursday.
Rickey Pendley led the Tigers (2-1) at the plate with two hits and three RBI. Austin McCullough had three hits, including a double and a RBI. Devante Dixon had a pair of hits and two RBI. Curtis Abernathy had a hit and two RBI. Levi Mintz added a pair of hits.
Cedar Bluff hosts Hokes Bluff on Friday.