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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lady Tigers Play Hardball In Close Loss To Tuckerman

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Pictured is Chloe Creekmore

It was a windy dark day for the Arkansas 2A State Championship. On each side of the field were two teams vying for State gold who couldn’t be more alike as the young up-and-coming Mansfield Lady Tigers took on the Tuckerman Lady Bulldogs. With a total of 694 fans in the stands, most of which wore Tiger Red, the game was a tip-toe edge-of-the-seat thriller for Lady Tiger fans at the stadium and watching on television. In the end though, Mansfield fell in the final inning with a final score of 4-3.

The first inning was a warmup for both teams as each was looking for their opponent’s weaknesses. Tuckerman drew first blood, but it was the second inning that the Lady Tigers began to shoot off fireworks. Hailey Walker started off the second inning following in her family’s name as she took poor pitching by Tuckerman to walk her way onto first base. Cole Smith then rolled up a solid single base hit to set Brooklyn Adams up for a Lady Tiger boomer at-bat. Adams proceeded to smack the softball in a not so soft manner to bring in Walker and Smith to give Mansfield a 2-1 lead at the end of the second inning. At the top of the third, Alyson “The Extreme” Edwards pitching landed inside a few times putting her behind the numbers, but being a team sport, her teammates made up for the early pitching woes. Tuckerman was able to hit a few shots, but the infield along with Edwards cut them off at every hit as they stifled the Lady Bulldogs to go into the top of the third inning still up 2-1.

The 2021 State Runner-Up Mansfield Lady Tigers

Chloe Creekmore started off with the swinging stick and smacked the ball towards third base but Tuckerman narrowly threw her out at first. Natalie Allison met the same fate with her next up as Tuckerman caught a pop fly from Allison for out number two. Tuckerman was on fire defensively, but they would soon be doused as Skylynn Harris sent the ball “Sky Bound” for a quick double as she landed on second base. But the bats didn’t have the upper hand as Tuckerman got their three outs against the Lady Tigers to go into the bottom of the third with momentum. With the Lady Bulldogs thinking they had the game set, Coach Donnie Eveld called a quick time to calm his players down and reboot their hard drives. The reboot was just what the Lady Tigers needed as with the very next pitch the Lady Tigers put an out on the board. Next, “The Extreme” Edwards stuck out the bulldogs. With the last reboot roundup, Edwards caught a soft hit by Tuckerman and tossed the ball to Harris to close out the third inning still with a 2-1 lead.

Natalie Allison

Smith stepped up to the plate to kick off the fourth inning with a quick smack of the ball but was thrown out at first base. Harlie Fuller dusted off her cleats with a bunt, but again Tuckerman threw another rout at first. Two outs at first set a bad tone, but Adams came up to take a line drive to land on first base. Kiara Thomas popped an impressive high hit, but the Lady Bulldogs snagged it out of the air to send the Lady Tigers back to the dugout. Edwards was up again on the mound and pitched a strike, foul, foul, ball, foul, ball, and a hit/catch/toss to Harris for an early out at first base then followed that up with back to back strikeouts to close out the fourth inning with style.

Harlie Fuller

To open the fifth inning, the lineup was a death row streak for Tuckerman. Edwards, who just closed the fourth with strikeouts, opened the fifth at-bat for the Lady Tigers with a solo shot over the wall for a home run giving Mansfield a 3-1 lead. That apparently didn’t make the Tuckerman field crew happy. Creekmore was up next and issued a line drive but Tuckerman did what they do best and quickly pitched the ball to first to put Creekmore out. Natalie Allison met the same fate as she sent a highflyer right into a Tuckerman glove to be out. Harris stepped up next and felt the wrath of the Lady Bulldogs pitching as she was stuck out. Mansfield stepped into the bottom of the fifth feeling the highs and lows of the previous top inning and knew that the game could go either way. The compass read up though as Edwards struck out the first Tuckerman batter in typical Lady Tiger fashion. Although Arkansas mask restrictions have been lifted, Creekmore kept hers on as she caught a bunt from her hind catcher position for the second out. Tuckerman sent an airball to left field only to be met with the glove of Harlie Fuller who proved that the Lady Tigers defense isn’t half empty, it’s definitely “Fuller” than the Tuckerman batters.

Alyson “The Extreme” Edwards

Tuckerman didn’t lay down to start the top of the sixth inning as they struck out Walker, got Smith out at first base, and ripped Fuller down with three strikes. The Lady Bulldogs then took over the plates getting two on base early and bringing in a homer closing the gap to a 3-2 lead by Mansfield. Natalie Allison snagged the next hit, but an RBI on the next Tuckerman swing brought in another run to tie the game 3-3. With the Lady Bulldogs on fire, Edwards put out the flames to close the sixth inning with a strikeout. With the game on the line, Tuckerman made a bold move and switched pitchers. Brooklyn Adams took the first pitch for a foul and the second with a hit but was shut down at first base. Thomas was struck out next, and Edwards was caught on a fly ball for a quick three outs by the Lady Bulldogs. The comeback woes began to take their toll on Mansfield as Tuckerman took a base followed by a steal. Then a pop fly catch by Creekmore set the stage for another steal by Tuckerman all the way to third base. The nail in the coffin was finally driven in with a quick hit for the walk-off score at the bottom of the seventh for the final score of 4-3.

Skylynn Harris

The underdog Mansfield Lady Tigers heard the negativity all season. Things like “you play in a weak conference” and “you’re too young to go very far”. With 2012 being the last season for a Lady Tiger State Softball Championship and over 600 days since the last softball Championship period was played due to COVID, the odds stood against Mansfield to even win their conference. Instead, they dominated their Conference, District, and Region winning all three, whipped their way to the State Finals to finish as State Runner-Ups, and finished with an 18-5 record. The Lady Tigers did everything everyone said they couldn’t do and will definitely not be underestimated in future seasons.

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