Alexis Gunnell pitched a one-hit shutout, losing the no-hitter to a harmless single in the seventh inning, to lead the Lady Sharks to a repeat trip to the Lower State.
But it was a trip last month to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for a big national tournament that coach Adam Jones believe was the turning point for this year’s squad.
“(Gunnell) pitched a great game. She’s really turned it on here at the right time, but so has the whole team,” Jones said.
“I trace it back to that Disney trip, not just the tough competition they played against but the whole experience of staying in hotel rooms together, eating together. It was a bonding experience and it’s showing on the field.”
The Lady Sharks haven’t lost a game since returning from Florida, and their team unity showed again on Tuesday against the outgunned Lady Stags.
St. James’ Megan Montiegel went 3-for-4 with a run scored, Hayley Reigel went 2-for-2 with a run scored and Hannah Price went 2-for-4 with an RBI as the Lady Sharks pounded out 10 hits.
That was more than enough for Gunnell, who pitched three shutouts and allowed only six hits through the entire district tournament.
The Lady Sharks’ unity will be put to the test in the first round of the Lower State tournament when they visit No. 1-ranked Hartsville on Saturday.
* Carolina Forest 5, Ashley Ridge 0: The Lady Panthers got another stellar performance from pitcher Rachel Lembcke to shut out visiting Ashley Ridge and capture the district tournament championship.
Lembcke allowed only one hit and struck out nine batters as the Lady Panthers rolled into next week’s Class AAA Lower State tournament. Their next opponent is to-be-determined.
- Photo by Rancier Photography