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Chipola Battles Gulf Coast

March 19, 2009


MARIANNA - The first softball meeting between Gulf Coast and Chipola College was a stalemate.

A usual battle for Panhandle Conference supremacy was a fight to stay away from the basement in this young season on Thursday. Chipola won the first game 4-0, but Gulf Coast held on for a 3-1 victory in the nightcap.

The Lady Indians, the two-time defending conference champions, are 23-12 overall and 1-3 in the Panhandle. The Lady Commodores are 26-14, 2-2.

Competing head coaches held different views of the outcome.

"If we can play consistently then we'll come out on top," Chipola's Belinda Hendrix said. "The first game we were all up and then we couldn't come back in the second. That's been the story of our season so far."

Gulf Coast coach Susan Painter said achieving the split was crucial in going forward. And it was vitally important for the team to recover after being held to two  hits by Rayna McClinton in Game 1.

"We needed that. It was big for our program," Painter said. "They need to recognize how you have to play against a team like Chipola.

"In the first game we weren't aggressive and we weren't showing our personality. Then they showed they could win a tough ballgame."

Game 2 turned on errors, much like the first game. Gulf Coast struck for two runs in the top of the second inning against losing pitcher Brooke Muth after Andascha Moore-Pryor's single squirted through the legs of Chipola center fielder Michelle Hewett.

Hewett, a Marianna native who was 3 for 4, was driven in by Tera Gainer in the third to shave the deficit to 2-1. Chipola left baserunners on first and second, and did likewise in the fifth against winning pitcher Heather Hughes.

Jessica Swanson capped the scoring with a solo home run in the seventh. Alanna Hadley, the Game 1 loser, earned the save by retiring the final two Chipola batters.

Hughes was the winner, finishing with four strikeouts and three walks, while giving up one run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

A jubilant Lady Commodore bench was in stark contrast to a somber dugout in the first game. McClinton, who has shown a propensity for wildness, struck out eight and held Gulf Coast hitless until the seventh inning. She walked three and hit Crystal Thompson, but otherwise was in control.

Chipola broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the fourth. Hadley walked Kelly Dill with the bases loaded and Nicole Roddy scored on Jill Mathis' error. Kara Gordon also scored when Gainer was caught in a rundown.

Kaitlin Ellingsworth's error brought in Gordon for the game's final run in the sixth.

Hadley hit three batters, but gave up only four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Thompson and Swanson provided Gulf Coast's only two hits in back-to-back at-bats.

Hendrix, who coached Chipola to state and national titles in 2007, understandably was disappointed with the nightcap.

"Hopefully they will see the difference between the first and second games," she said. "They need to stay up for both games, no matter the competition."

The doubleheader wasn't without its contentious moments. Then again, few Chipola-Gulf Coast games can boast the claim.

Gulf Coast's Sam Posey was ejected in the second game after throwing an elbow at first baseman Kami Fannin on a popout. Also, Gordon did a shoulder shimmy at second base after an inning-ending double play in the first game.

Some words were exchanged in the parking lot. But it wouldn't be a true rivalry without some heat. And it wouldn't provide the growing experience Painter craved for her team.

"This is a difficult place to play and win at," she said. "That (Game 2) was a good game and we need more of those."

Gulf Coast has time to cool off, as the Lady Commodores next play March 27 at home against Pensacola at 1 p.m. Chipola is at Pensacola on Tuesday.

  • Game 1
    Gulf Coast 000 000 0 - 0 2 3
    Chipola      000 301 x - 4 4 0

    Hadley (L) and Walker; McClinton (W) and Todd. 2B: Chipola (Gainer). E: Gulf Coast 3 (Mathis 2, Ellingsworth). LOB: Gulf Coast 4, Chipola 7.
    Game 2
    Gulf Coast 020 000 1 - 3 4 2
    Chipola      001 000 0 - 1 6 2
    Hughes (W), Hadley (7, S) and Long and Walker (6); Muth (L) and Todd. 2B: Chipola (Gordon). HR: Gulf Coast (Swanson). E: Gulf Coast 2 (Ellingsworth, Long), Chipola 2 (Hewett, Vickers). LOB: Gulf Coast 3, Chipola 7.


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