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LAWRENCEBURG – Scoring runs rarely has been a problem for Collins’ softball team this season.
It was, however, Monday, as Gallatin County edged the Titans, 3-2, in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament at Anderson County.
“It’s very reflexive of our season,” said first-year Collins Coach Suzanne Cates, whose team ended its 2013 campaign with a 19-20 record. “We just couldn’t put all three parts together. Today we had pitching and defense but couldn’t find the sticks.”
The Titans, who entered averaging 6.9 runs per game, were held to five hits and single runs in the fourth and seventh innings by Wildcats pitcher Danielle Nichelson.
The game was scoreless before Gallatin County (19-1) plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.
Freshman Alyssa Nichelson, the Wildcats’ No. 9 hitter, reached on a bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice, to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on Hannah Dossett’s single to center field. Dossett stole second then scored when Hayden Seng’s hard line drive ricocheted off shortstop Janette Hynes’ glove and rolled to the fence in left field.
Senior Bailey Rankin cut Gallatin County’s lead in half with one swing of the bat to start off the fourth inning, driving a home run over the left-field fence. Rankin’s shot actually hit Cates’ daughter, Kenleigh, who was in the bleachers behind the fence.
The Titans’ next hitter, Shelbi Poehlein, reached base on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice and third on a fielder’s choice. Poehlein, however, was stranded at third, when Danaria Lewis struck out. Poehlein was one of six runners left on base by Collins in the game.
“We could get runners on; we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” Cates said.
It stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the fifth. That’s when Shepherd walked Gallatin County’s No. 2 hitter, Kelsea Satchwell, with two outs. Satchwell stole second and scored on Dossett’s single to right field.
Both teams went three-up, three-down in the sixth before the Titans had one last chance to save their season, and they nearly did.
In the top of the seventh Lewis singled with one out before Hynes hit into a fielder’s choice. Lindsey Ketcham followed with a single to left field to keep Collins alive, and Janelle Hynes reached on an error – which allowed her twin sister to score – by shortstop Brooke Dossett.
The game ended, though, when Shepherd – who had a team-high .407 batting average during the regular season – hit into a fielder’s choice (Satchwell, the Wildcats’ second baseman, tagged Hynes out on her way to that base).
“I thought that we were going to do it,” Cates said. “Shep was up. I thought she was due. I thought, ‘She’s going to tag one.’”
Ketcham finished with a pair of singles for the Titans, who won one more game than they did last season despite being a less-experienced team.
“I think we did a lot better than a lot of people thought we would,” Cates said. “We came a long way. Consistency became important, and they started believing in themselves.
“I think by the end of the season we were a team to be reckoned with.”
GALLATIN COUNTY 3, COLLINS 2
Collins 000 100 1 – 2 5 0
Gallatin County 002 001 X – 3 7 2
Lauren Shepherd and Janelle Hynes. Danielle Nichelson and Hayden Seng. W – Nichelson. L – Shepherd (11-11). 2B – Seng (GC). HR – Bailey Rankin (CHS). Records – Collins 19-20, Gallatin County 19-1.