By Reed DeSalvo \ The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star
COLLINSVILLE — In a contest that featured four ties and four lead changes, it was home-standing West Lauderdale High School who managed to emerge with a 9-6 win over Nanih Waiya High School Friday.
The bottom of the fifth inning proved to be the difference in the game. With Nanih Waiy clinging to a 4-3 advantage, the Lady Knights pounded out six consecutive two out-hits and scored six runs — aided by three costly Lady Warrior throwing errors.
“They battled and we battled,” West Lauderdale coach Cary Luke said. “We had more bleeders and Texas leaguers, but we put the ball in play. We did what we had to do in putting the ball in play and giving us a chance, instead of striking out.”
The big blow was provided off the bench in the form of pinch hitter Cayley Nance, who delivered a two-run triple to right field and scampered home following a Nanih Waiya throwing error.
“Coach Luke is always telling us to trust our hands and believe in ourselves,” Nance said. “The pitch was straight down the middle, and I thought, ‘This is mine,’ and I swung.”
The Lady Warriors committed seven errors in total.
“We fell apart,” Nanih Waiya coach Ron Swart said. “Mistakes. That’s us. We let one mistake happen and then it snowballed.
West Lauderdale (11-4), a 4A school, has now won eight games in a row.
“That’s why we scheduled them,” Luke said. “They’re going to play hard and to the final out.”
Yet Nanih Waiya, a 1A school, wouldn’t go down quietly. With West Lauderdale possessing a 9-5 advantage in the seventh, the Lady Warriors managed to load the bases with nobody out.
“We can go toe-to-toe with anybody,” Swart said. “We’re going to battle, we’re going to play hard. I’ll take mine any day. We’re willing to battle and fight. We didn’t lay down, and we’re not going to ever lay down. We’ll compete withy anybody.”
However, WHS pitcher, Ana Gilbert, was able to minimize the damage to the tune of only one-run.
Gilbert tossed all seven innings, striking out six batters, in earning the win.
“We were going with her the whole way,” Luke said. “She pitched last night, and then turned around tonight and struggled a little bit. Couldn’t locate, couldn’t get the off-speed pitches over for strikes, but she still had it. And that’s what I told here, to just give us a chance, and she did.”
At the plate, Gilbert led the charge for the Lady Knights. The junior went 4-for-4 with four singles, three RBIs and two runs scored.
“Usually, I’m not the best hitter,” Gilbert said. “I just pretty much hit the ball where they weren’t playing. I was able to get bloop hits.”
Nanih Waiya (12-5) held leads on three separate occasions before West Lauderdale’s fifth inning rally.
Lead off batter, Mackenzie Johnson, reached base safely three times and drove in two runs, including a two-out, two-run triple in the fourth.
“1A vs. 4A and we’re still battling,” Swart said. “We’ve played the best of the best so far, and we’ve been right there with them.”
West Lauderdale travels to Houston High School for a pivotal district matchup Tuesday.
“It was good for us to battle against a good team,” Luke said. “We’ve been seeing less than stellar pitching the last few games, so we really needed to see a good arm.”