Sale Creek Advances With 7-0 Win

Macie Stanfield's Two-Hitter Leads To Another Battle With Tellico Plains

Monday, May 14, 2018 - by James Beach

Sale Creek pitcher Macie Stanfield made her way to the side of Coach Clifford Kirk outside the Lady Panthers dugout all smiles Monday night, the result of a 7-0 two-hit shutout win over Coalfield in the Region 2-A semifinals.

 

Of course, just having her head coach back at the field for her to be able to sidle up next to was more than enough to power the smile, and the performance was simply icing on the cake.

 

“Oh, yeah, it means the world having him back out with us. It’s been lonely without him,” she said before laughing and adding. “It’s also been quiet without him.”

 

Kirk, still recovering from a broken hip that sidelined him a week into the season, was his ol’ vocal self from his perch next to the home dugout, offering encouragement, advice and even barking at a few umpire calls.

 

“I’m so proud of these girls. They put in a lot of hard work before this season began and to see it paying off is special. I’m glad I’ve been able to make it back out here to see it. I’ve got a lot of confidence in these young ladies,” Kirk said.

 

“I might be on the sideline, but they are still my girls.”

 

The win guarantees two more games for his girls beginning with Wednesday’s Region 2-A finals against Tellico Plains, an 8-6 winner over Harriman. The winner will host a state sectional on Friday and the loser will be on the road.

 

Stanfield was dominating in the circle, mixing up pitches to strike out 12 Lady Jackets and allowing just two hits in the shutout.

 

When Coalfield showed plate discipline early in laying off Stanfield’s rise ball, she resorted to pounding the corners and buckling knees with a devastating changeup.

 

“She’s a really good pitcher, especially when she hits spots like she did today. With her velocity and that changeup, it was hard. We tried to take away the rise ball and did a good job at doing so, but like a great pitcher, she adjusted. Hats off to her,” said Coalfield coach Travis Malone.

 

Sale Creek (31-5) had won two earlier meetings – both by one run – and it figured to be another nip-and-tuck affair, but the Lady Panthers got some breathing room early with runs in each of the first two frames.

 

“We expected a close one, but honestly, we’ve been hitting it really well the last few weeks so I’m not surprised. This team always seems to have a big inning at some point, but it was nice being able to push across the runs early in anticipation of that big inning,” said assistant coach Kendra Mooneyham.

 

Sale Creek leadoff hitter Hannah Hall opened the first with a bloop single, promptly stole second and scooted to third on a wild pitch. Stanfield helped her own cause with a grounder to plate the run.

 

In the second inning, Madison Stott and Kristen Sharp both singled and Sarah Gibson worked a walk to load them. Hall then worked a masterful 11-pitch at bat before getting a walk to make it 2-0.

 

Stanfield, meanwhile, pitched somewhat cautiously resulting in four walks over the second, third and fourth innings, but she struck out the third out in each frame to strand two runners in each inning.

 

The big inning finally rolled around in the Sale Creek half of the fourth with three hits pushing across four runs.

 

Allison Smith plated the first with a triple in the gap to bring in Sharp, who opened with a walk. Hall then legged out a double to score Smith and end the night for Coalfield starter Anna Smith.

 

After a walk and a fielder’s choice, Shelby Sullivan doubled in two runs and Stanfield knew what to do after that.

 

“Hall and Sullivan were big for us tonight. They put a lot of pressure on them and we capitalized on it. Once we got that lead, Macie just went after them in the circle,” said assistant Eric Sullivan.

 

Stanfield needed just 29 pitches over the final three innings after getting the breathing room.

 

“After we got up on them, I just went after them. Our defense has had my back all year. I hit my spots early and changed speeds a lot, but after we went up big, I just went after them,” said Stanfield.

 

Sale Creek added a final insurance run in the sixth when Hall reached on her third hit, a bunt single, moving to third on singles from Leah Campbell and Sullivan and jogging home on a wild pitch to make the final 7-0.

 

The speedy Hall drove in two runs as did Sullivan with her two doubles and a single.

 

Coalfield (23-11)  managed  one solid single by Smith and got a bunt hit Mikayla Heidel.

 

The Region finals matchup will pit Sale Creek against a Tellico Plains team it has beaten three times and lost to once.

 

“Tellico Plains is an awfully good team, and I expected them to make it back to us. It should be a good one,” Kirk said.

 

COALFIELD      000 000 0 – 0   2 0

SALE CREEK    110 401 x – 7 10 1

 

Smith, Malone (4) and Landrum; Stanfield and Baskette.

 

(Contact James Beach at 1134james@gmail.com or via Twitter @beachnut1134)

 


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