The Ardmore Lady Tigers traveled to Athens High School Thursday where they faced off against the Athens Golden Eagles. Ardmore came into the game with a 4-1 overall record, while the Golden Eagles had a 1-0 record with a win over the Lawrence County Red Devils 11-0. Fortunately for Athens, they were able to remain unbeaten with a thrilling 4-3 win.
The Lady Tigers got on the board first in the top of the second inning and maintained a 1-0 lead going into the third.
Athens came out swinging in the third inning, with a leadoff single by Anna Carder. A quick two outs followed the single by Carder, but Jordyn Johnson was able to come through in the clutch with a two-run home run to center field, giving the Golden Eagles a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth inning.
The Golden Eagles maintained that advantage for the next two innings. Then, in the top of the sixth, Ardmore’s Bo Riley legged out an infield single and later stole second to get herself into scoring position. That paid off as Briona Daily tied it up 2-2 by driving in Riley with a single up the middle.
But that only seemed to rejuvenate the Golden Eagles in the bottom half of the inning. Abbi Dempsey opened the inning up with a double followed by a base hit by Lillian Cain, giving the Golden Eagles first and third with no outs.
Morgan Stiles followed that up with a sacrifice fly to give Athens a 3-2 advantage. That wasn’t the end for Athens as Mazie Swan was able reach base on a throwing error, resulting in Cain getting to third base. Carder added to the tally with a sacrifice fly, giving Athens a 4-2 lead going into the seventh inning.
Ardmore added one more run in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough as Molly Gilbert made a diving play at second and a throw to first to save another run from tying it up and sealing a victory for the Golden Eagles.
“We faced some adversity right there and we pulled through with some big hits,” Athens head coach Thad Prater said. “That was a great play there at the end, she’s a young girl, Molly Gilbert works hard and I’m really proud of that.”
Admittedly, it has been a weird year with the coronavirus pandemic, but Prater acknowledges that the girls have done all the right things and he’s just happy they’re able to be back on the field.
“We have been doing all the safety precautions, trying to keep healthy and it’s tough on them because they want to be around other people,” he said. “The girls work real hard all offseason and they just want to play.”
Even with the loss, Ardmore head coach Stephen Baugh was pleased with his team’s performance and like Prater, is excited to be back on the softball diamond.
“We lost a lot last year and our players came in and competed today,” he said. “Athens has a lot of good players, and we did a pretty good job. We made a few mistakes, I made a few mistakes coaching, but other than that, we did a good job tonight.
“Just having the opportunity to play softball again, coach softball again and compete. It’s awesome.”