ROLAND - The look on Tarin Bell's face was one of surprise, but there was also a little bit of 'I told you so' in her expression as she exited the third-base dugout on Saturday at the Roland Kiwanis Tournament.
A season loaded with defensive mistakes and near-misses were all forgotten, at least for a little while, as the South Hamilton softball team celebrated a near-flawless 2-0 upset victory over No. 6-ranked (Class 2A) Jesup.
The Hawks turned two double plays, threw a J-Hawk runner out at the plate and picked another off the bases to preserve the win, just their fourth of the season. They didn't make a single error for the first time this season, and they did it without starting shortstop Mattea Detrick in the lineup.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
South Hamilton shortstop Kali Lucas (facing) tags out a diving Brianna Weber of Jesup after Weber got caught in a pickle during the seventh inning at the Roland Kiwanis Tournament on Saturday. South Hamilton upset the No. 6-ranked (Class 2A) J-Hawks, 2-0.
So, yeah, there was some surprise.
"Having no errors, that's just awesome, and we had to play good defense," Bell, the Hawks' head coach, said.
Nobody was happier than Hawks' pitcher Brittany Nicholson, who relied on her defense to get out of several jams. Nicholson surrendered six hits and four walks, and she struck out six.
Jesup000 000 0-0 6 0
South Hamilton000 002 x-2 7 0
Kelsey Lough and Ally Flaucher. Brittany Nicholson and Shannon Hoyle. W-Nicholson. L-Lough. 2B-JES: Caitlin Weber, Allison Gibbs. RBI-SH: Alyssa Hegland.
Boone510 03-9 10 2
South Hamilton010 03-4 8 4
Paige Prokop and Tacie Blunk. Brittany Nicholson and Shannon Hoyle. W-Prokop. L-Nicholson. 2B-SH: Nicholson. RBI-SH: Carly Swenson (2), Kayla Carlson, Kayla Lucas.
"We're really excited right now, and we just came out and played really hard," Nicholson said. "The defense took a lot of pressure off me, and it lets me know that I've got a team behind me that is confident in themselves and that makes me more confident."
Freshman right fielder Kayla Lucas got the Hawks out of a third-inning pickle with the first double play. After Jesup's Allison Gibbs stroked a one-out double into the gap in left-center, Kelsey Lough ripped a liner Lucas' way. The rookie made a nice catch on the run and then fired to twin sister Kali Lucas, who started in place of Detrick at short, at second to double Gibbs off and end the inning.
Still scoreless, the J-Hawks' Caitlin Weber led-off the fifth with a double to right-center, and she moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nicci Roberts. Gibbs was next, and she hit a hard grounder to third baseman Kayla Carlson, who fired over to first. Weber broke for home on the throw, but was gunned down by Hawks' first baseman Carly Swenson, who fired a bullet on the money to catcher Shannon Hoyle.
In the top of the sixth, Jesup's Ali Flaucher reached second with one out and she was moving on a blooper to the right side by Trina Johnson. But Hawks' second baseman Elisabeth Elsner climbed the ladder and stretched to make a shoestring catch, and she immediately tossed the ball to Kali Lucas at second for another double play.
South Hamilton (4-12) finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth, as Elsner drew a lead-off walk from Lough, Jesup's hurler. Elsner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nicholson, over to third on a base knock to center by Ella Jans and then scored the winning run on a passed ball.
Eighth-grader Alyssa Hegland came off the Hawks' bench to provide some insurance with a line-drive RBI single to center that plated Jans.
South Hamilton finished with seven hits off Lough, who entered the game with a 0.63 earned run average and 184 strikeouts on the season. She finished with just two Ks in the game.
"All game, we just kept our heads up and kept telling each other that we can do this," Nicholson said. "This was a ranked team, but we just wanted to keep fighting and that's what we did."
Jesup (21-4) tried to rally in the seventh when Brianna Weber took a walk to open the frame. But she strayed too far off the base a couple pitches later and Hoyle chucked it down to Swenson at first to catch Weber in a rundown. Weber was eventually tagged out by Kali Lucas trying to slide into second.
Kali Lucas showed no nerves in the starting lineup. She made a nifty on-the-run catch in foul territory behind the third-base bag to erase Tessa Clayton in the sixth.
"Kali Lucas played phenomenal," Bell said. "She came in and made great plays and a great catch, and I really couldn't have asked for more."
Nicholson finished 2-for-2 at the plate. Elsner, MacKenzie Busch and Carlson all singled as well.
Boone 9, South Hamilton 4
Less than an hour after its upset of Jesup, South Hamilton dropped a 9-4 decision to Boone at the Roland Kiwanis Tournament on Saturday.
The Toreadors ripped off 10 hits and took control with five runs in the first inning of the shortened 5-inning game.
South Hamilton scored three times in the seventh and finished with eight hits. Nicholson roped a double, while Carlson and Kayla Lucas both finished with two hits and an RBI. Swenson plated two runs on a single, while Busch and Hoyle both had a base knock as well.