SMACKOVER – Freshman Mackenzie Preston hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and senior Abby Crawford hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth to win it Tuesday as Smackover rallied past Ashdown 6-5 in the league opener.
The Lady Bucks improved to 8-1. The Lady Panthers fell to 6-4.
“It was a great game, a great comeback win,” said Smackover coach Dennis Steele. “We were kind of flat but I thought we really came back at the end and hit the ball. This wasn’t Abby’s best game but it was good enough for us to win. She’s a competitor and when the game is on the line, she really picks it up.”
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Brooke Dees laced a two-out double. Megan Mullins drove her in with a double. Preston, on a 1-2 count, turned on an inside pitch and drove it over the fence in left field to send the game into extra innings.
It was the first varsity home run for the ninth grader.
“Preston’s heroics, that was pretty big,” said Steele.
Ashdown regained the lead in the top of the eighth when Kara Earnest drove in a run with a two-out single.
In the bottom of the inning, Lydia Pullin started on second base on the international tiebreaker rule. After Karli Goocher lined out sharply to left, Crawford sent everyone home with a two-run blast.
Of Smackover’s seven hits, three were home runs.
“We were really overanxious,” said Steele. “We had 13 pop ups so we have to work on that. But, they were aggressive at the plate.”
Mullins went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Defensively, Goocher, at catcher, picked off a runner at third base and gunned down another trying to steal second.
“Goocher was smoking ‘em back there,” said Steele. “And, she had about six balls in the dirt and only one got by her. And, it was probably a pitch she couldn’t have stopped anyway.”
Dees, in centerfield, snared a line drive and doubled a runner off second base in the second inning. In the fifth, the Lady Bucks turned a 6-3-5 double play. With a runner on second, Vanessa Lofton fielded a grounder at short, fired to Karis Robinson to get the out at first. Robinson cut the runner down at third base with Sabrina Estridge making the tag.
“That was a great throw by Karis and a great tag by Sabrina,” said Steele.
Crawford went the full eight innings in the circle, yielding nine hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts.
Ashdown opened the scoring in the first on a solo home run by Blaire Gentry. The Lady Panthers added a run in the second on Brooklynn Smith’s infield single with the bases loaded.
Smackover averted further damage on Dees’ double play from centerfield.
The Lady Panthers went up 4-0 in the third with two runs, including a RBI single by Earnest.
Smackover didn’t get on the board until the sixth, when Goocher led off with a home run.
Angelina McGinn took the loss in the circle for Ashdown.