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|Ferriday Dixie Belles play three at World Series|
The Ferriday Dixie Belles played three games at the World Series in Alexandria, eliminating the host team in an 11-inning contest, while falling in two-one-run contests.
After losing to Sumter, S.C., 2-1 Saturday, the Dixie Belles rallied to defeat Alexandria, 6-5 Sunday morning.
"These girls can truly say they are the state champions," said Ferriday coach Rut Horne. "That's something they can talk about when they are grandmammas. They had the opportunity to go to the World Series, and that's quite an accomplishment."
It was Horne's second trip to the World Series in six years after his Ferriday Gator 16-18-year-old team won state and finished second in the World Series in Ozark, Al.
"We only lost one person off of that team and didn't even get out of district the next year so that shows you how tough it can be to get as far as this team did this year," Horne said. "We had a lot of outstanding defensive plays by a lot of different people. One thing I thought we were short on going into the district tournament was pitching from the standpoint I wasn't sure how many free passes we would give up. But that didn't happen. The girls got in there and threw strikes. In order for a team to beat us, they had to hit the ball."
Pitchers were limited to 15 innings for the tournament, which put Ferriday in a bind early after playing 11 innnings in its second game. But Horne, who specializes in pitching, likes the rule.
"It puts a little more strategy into it," he said. "You can't go in with just one pitcher. If you have one pitcher who is a horse, you can walk through the tournament. This makes you develop more than one pitcher. You better have a minimum of three, and probably four. Sometimes the rule puts you in a bind, but everybody is in the same boat."
Ferriday was eliminated in a 7-6 loss to Liberty, Texas Monday morning.
Alexandria jumped out to a 4-0 lead heading into the third inning before a 15-minute rain delay stopped play. Ferriday cut the lead to 4-2 before a second rain delay in the bottom of the fifth momentarily slowed Ferriday's rally as Alexandria added its fifth and final run in the bottom of the sixth.
Ferriday tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth inning. After an Ellen Bairnsfather bunt loaded the bases for Ferriday, Lay-Lay Griffin and Desiree Buie both hit RBI singles, forcing the game into extra innings.
With the eighth, ninth and 10th innings remaining scoreless, winning pitcher Mary Sanders ended the marathon with an RBI single to score Buie.
Ferriday managed seven hits in its first game, while South Carolina totaled 16.
South Carolina opened play with a leadoff single by Erin Cook, followed by an RBI by Caroline Cunningham, a single by Kelsey Osteen and a double by Ansley Ard.
Molly Devening doubled to lead off the fourth inning and Bairnsfather followed with an infield single and stole second, forcing a bad throw which scored Devening.
Keke Collins then hit a slow roller to third base, with Collins arriving safe at first and Bairnsfather getting tagged at home for the first out of the inning.
Ferriday had runners in scoring position in the second, fourth and sixth innings, but couldn't get them across the plate.
Missed opportunities led to the Ferriday team's exit against Texas.
Ferriday had runners at first and second with one out in the top of the seventh, but failed to score.
Alaina Burns and Taylor Morace both had solid hits which just landed in foul territory that would have led to runs.
"Taylor, who had three outstanding tournaments behind the plate, ripped one that went two hops to the fence that was three-feet foul," Horne said. "If that ball is three feet on the other side, we score two runs and go up by one."
Trailing 7-4 heading into the sixth inning, Collins' triple and Bailey New's single were just enough to cut the Texas lead down to one, but not enough to pull out another close victory.
But Horne is certainly not going to spend a lot of time saying, "what if?"
"These girls did a really good job and I'm proud of them," he said. "They were a great group to work with and we had great fan support. We'll have seven of the 12 back next year and I'm looking forward to it."
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