The first time Gainesville and West Hall met this season on a softball field, the Lady Red Elephants got the best of their cross-county rival.
Not this time.
The Lady Spartans, powered by an efficient offense that plated all but three of the 16 runners that reached base, and crafty pitching from Miranda Miller, breezed past Gainesville 13-2 in a five-inning, Region 8B-AAA game Tuesday at West Hall .
After a nine-game losing streak, the Lady Spartans (6-14, 3-6) have won their last two games by a combined score of 22-2. They beat Johnson 9-0 on last Thursday.
“Our team came from losing and now we’ve brought our game back up and have started playing as a team,” said second baseman Ashley Neal, who led West Hall’s attack with four RBIs. “We’re starting to gain confidence in each other.”
Gainesville (6-10, 2-7) took an early 2-1 lead in the second inning by plating two runs on Abby Cooley’s RBI single and an error on the relay throw, but West Hall responded with five-, three- and four-run innings to put the game out of reach.
West Hall’s Marissa Bryner tied the game with a solo home run to lead off the second inning and the Lady Spartans took the lead for good four batters later on Neal’s RBI single. Madison Strickland later hit a two-run double.
Neal broke the game open in the third inning with a bases-loaded double that scored three runs.
The Lady Spartans got four more runs in the fourth on just two hits. Marissa Bryner hit a two-run double and an error allowed two runners to score.
In the circle for West Hall, Miller pitched out of several jams to strand eight runners, including a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the first inning.
In five innings, Miller struck out three and surrendered one earned run on five hits and three walks.
“That’s huge when your pitcher can overcome a little adversity,” Lady Spartans coach Warren Sellers said. “She stranded some runners on base and gave us a chance to win and that’s all we ask of her.”
Katy Womack took the loss for the Lady Red Elephants, giving up 10 earned runs on nine hits, three walks and a balk with a runner on third.
“They out-hit us, played better defense than us and pitched better than us,” Lady Red Elephants coach Jeremy Kemp said. “They beat us in every single phase of the game and 13-2 is what happens when that’s the case.”