J.R. Tidwell/FCT The 2012 seniors for Belgreen and Tharptown stand together before Thursday night’s game. The players are (left to right) Lauren Oliver, Brae Sellers, Erica Smith, Chloe Lane, Morgan Bradford, Erika Sparks and Bridget Thompson.

Archived Story

Tharptown comes from behind twice to beat Belgreen

Published 6:00am Saturday, April 28, 2012

THARPTOWN — Every time Belgreen and Tharptown get together for a sporting event, a good game will follow.

Thursday nights matchup between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Wildcats was no exception, as the lead changed hands four times in the contest, three of which coming in the final two innings.

In the end it was Tharptown that came away with a 5-4 area win.

“We felt like we’ve become complacent,” Tharptown head coach Susie Sellers said. “We’ve lost our sense of urgency. We have to play like this is it. That’s our rival over there.”

The early innings had the mark of a pitcher’s duel brewing between Tharptown’s Shelby Palmer and Belgreen’s Laken Bragwell, as neither player gave up much towards the beginning of the game.

It was the Lady Bulldogs that ended the stalemate in the top of the second when Allyson Bragwell drew a walk with the bases loaded, bringing in Morgan Bradford.

It was her sister Laken that scored the next run for Belgreen in the top of the fourth on an RBI double to the center field wall that brought in Lauren Oliver.

That score stood until the bats of the Lady Wildcats came to life in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brae Sellers got a single, followed by a double from Palmer.

This set up a two-RBI triple to right field by Haley Malone, which evened the score at 2-2.

Kaitlyn Vandiver followed up with a sacrifice groundball for an RBI, putting Tharptown up 3-2.

Belgreen had held onto the lead for five and a half innings before being topped by the Lady Wildcats’ rally, but the game was not over yet.

The Lady Bulldogs battled back in their last chance at-bats in the top of the seventh.

Erica Smith drew a leadoff walk followed by Bridget Thompson reaching first on an error.

Oliver hit a groundball that brought in Smith, with an error allowing Oliver to reach base.

Belgreen regained the lead when Thompson executed a delayed steal to home plate.

Tharptown’s catcher Autumn Sutter fired a throw to third, but Thompson took off for home and beat the throw to score the go-ahead run.

Tharptown again found itself trailing, 4-3, going into the bottom of the seventh.

“[At that point] I’m thinking Laken’s going to get them out,” Belgreen head coach Richie Hester said, “but we bobbled one and missed one.”

The Lady Wildcats began a last-chance rally when Erika Sparks reached first base on an error to lead off.

Sutter also reached base on an error in the next at-bat.

Belgreen got the next batter out, but that would prove to be their last in he game.

Sellers stepped up to the plate with two on and one out.

She roped one off of the second baseman that ended up in the outfield.

If the play is not scored an error, Sellers hit a walk-off two-RBI double. If it is, two runs still came in due to her hit.

“We played good,” Hester said. “Take two or three plays away and we win that game. It’s a lot of little things.”

Tharptown’s win puts them in a three-way tie for first in the area with Belgreen and Hackleburg, but the Lady Wildcats’ loss to the Lady Bulldogs in the Franklin County Tournament means Belgreen will move on to the area tournament.

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