McKenzie wins Butler County Tourney for second time

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An eight-run second inning all but clinched the Butler County Softball Tournament for the McKenzie Lady Tigers for the second year in a row.

The Lady Tigers cruised to the championship game as the No. 1 seed of the tournament, outlasting Greenville 9-4 and winning in convincing fashion against Georgiana 17-3 on the first day of the tournament.

In fact, it wasn’t until the first inning of the championship game, a rematch against Greenville, that the Lady Tigers hit their first bump in the road.

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Greenville capitalized on some early errors, creating a sizeable 4-0 lead heading into the second inning.

“We started out sort of sluggish, and we made some mental mistakes that cost us to give up some runs early,” said McKenzie head softball coach Ezell Powell. “But at the same time, I don’t want to take anything away from what Greenville did correctly — you have to earn those runs.”

The Lady Tigers, disappointed with their early play, regrouped in remarkable fashion by settling down and putting up eight runs in the bottom of the second inning of play alone, seven of which coming before Greenville could nab a single out.

Despite the offensive explosion of the second inning, it was the Lady Tigers’ smothering defense that sealed the deal.

Senior ace A.J. Sanford proved clutch in all seven innings of play, laying the foundation for the Lady Tigers’ defense with laser-accurate pitching that left many Greenville bats missing their intended targets. Being able to pitch an entire game, and do so consistently, was something that Powell was happy to see develop.

“Building stamina and endurance is an area of our pitching that we’ve been working on,” Powell said.

“And I was happy to see her go as long as she did and still pitch effectively over a long period of time.”

Although Greenville rallied at the top of the sixth with some impressive hitting that led to two runs, it wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding.

A strikeout from Sanford aptly ended the contest with McKenzie prevailing 14-6.