Battle tested Foreman outlasts Lady Mustangs in state semifinals
Foreman scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning and went on to defeat Buffalo Island Central 8-4 in the semifinals of the Class 2A State Softball Tournament Monday afternoon at Marked Tree. The Lady Gators (28-4) remained unbeaten this season against 2A competition with their win over the Lady Mustangs.
Foreman jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, scoring a pair of unearned runs, thanks to a Lady Mustang error. The Lady Gators upped their advantage to 4-0 in the third inning when Nadia Ballarin, who had three hits on the day, ripped a run scoring triple down the left field line. Ballarin came in to score on Maranda Gross' RBI single.
Like they have all season, the Lady Mustangs battled back, putting together a three run rally in the bottom of the fifth. Bailey Owens reached base on an error, and scored when Catherine Colbert delivered BIC's first hit of the game, an RBI single to right field. Lexi Ray followed with a single of her own to put runners at first and second. Colbert and Ray then pulled off a successful double steal to advance into scoring position. Both runners crossed the plate when the Foreman shortstop threw wildly to first base on a routine grounder, cutting the Lady Gator lead to 4-3.
BIC got even in the sixth inning when Karoline Thomas drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Colbert's second RBI single of the day, a two-out hit to centerfield. Colbert went to second on the throw to the plate, but was left stranded, setting up Foreman's seventh inning game winning rally.
"We were one hit away from taking the lead in the sixth inning," said BIC Coach Marty Williford. "I thought if we could have gone ahead at that point it would have put pressure on Foreman. But it just wasn't our time to get that hit. Foreman is a great, great team. They are probably the best hitting team I've seen all year. They put the ball in play, and if you make a mistake they make you pay for it."
The Lady Gators began their four run seventh on a solid leadoff single by Lauren Lovewell. It broke a string of 13 straight batters set down by Greathouse. Skyler Anderson beat out a slow roller down the third base line, putting runners at first and second. A bloop single into right field by Kylie Cowan loaded the bases with no outs. Greathouse struck out the next hitter, but Ballarin drilled a two-run single up the middle, giving the Lady Gators a 6-4 lead. Foreman tacked on two more runs when Hali Jester ripped a hit up the middle, capping off the four run inning.
Crystal Kegley went the distance to pick up the win for the Lady Gators. Kegley allowed four runs, one earned, on only three hits.
Madison Greathouse pitched seven innings, absorbing only her second loss of the season. The junior right hander gave up eight runs, five earned, on 12 hits.
"I am really proud of our team," Williford said. "We were the only team from the North to make it this far, so we have nothing to hang our heads about. We are very young. We have no seniors, so we will be back next year. We are going to take it even further. We have battled all year. There is no quit in this team."
BIC closes the year with a 23-2 mark.
Editors Note: The Lady Gators went on to defeat Junction City 8-5 in Saturday's Class 2A State Championship game at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. It was Foreman's seventh state title in the last nine years.