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Wildcats top Cougars to advance

Kaitlyn Mullins

The second semifinal of the middle school softball tournament featured the top seeded SWRMS Lady Cougars and the fourth seeded SERMS Lady Wildcats. SWRMS finished the regular season as co-champions with a 12-2 record, while SERMS finished with a 7-7.

The Cougars began the top of the first with a ground out right away. SERMS was unable to get on base in the first inning as SWRMS picked up the final two outs. Lexi Auman got things started for the Cougars in the bottom of the first with a base hit. The Wildcats got their first out on a fly ball to the outfield. As the third strike on Molly Strider was dropped she was called safe on first base as she advanced the runner into scoring position. Alexis Maness drew a walk to load the bases for the Cougars. With loaded bases, Caressa King picked up a base hit, but the Wildcats were able to pick off the lead runner. Lindsey Beck drew a walk with the bases loaded to score Strider for the automatic run. SWRMS left three runners stranded as SERMS picked up the final outs of the inning.

Lanie McDaniel and Bailey Herring got back to back base hits for the Wildcats in the top of the second. Laying down the bunt was Mackenzie Gee. An RBI single from Dori Hunter sent McDaniel home. Once the Cougars got their first out, Zeri Watson doubled to she send Gee home making it a 2-1 game. SWRMS finished the top of the second with back to back outs. In the bottom of the second Stevi Robbins, Carleigh Whitson, and Auman all drew walks to load the bases. Lindsey Auman drew the fourth straight walk that forced Robbins home tying the game at 2 apiece. A RBI base hit from Strider sent Whitson home to score. SERMS got out of the inning by turning a double play. At the end of two innings SWRMS lead 3-2.

Ayanna Mers took one for the team as she was hit by a pitch and took first base to start the top of the third for the Wildcats. On the next play the Cougars picked off the lead runner for out number one. Payton Hill picked up a double due to a throwing error. After the Cougars got the second out of the inning, McDaniel picked up a double to score #1 and tie the game at 3 all. Herring stepped to the plate and hit a double sending McDaniel home. With two outs Gee hit a RBI single to send Beaver home making it a 5-3 game. Hunter picked up a base hit and a throwing error on the Cougars allowed Gee to steal home putting the Wildcats up 6-3. In the bottom of the third, Beck drew a walk to start things off for the Cougars. A big triple from Caiden McDuffie sent Beck into score and cut the lead to 6-4. McDuffie would score off a RBI single from Robbins to cut the lead to one. The Wildcats rallied together as they were able to get back to back outs. Robbins made her way around the bases to add another score for the Cougars and tie the game a 6 all. SERMS would end the inning moments later with the final out.

SWRMS picked up an out right away in the top of the fourth, but followed it with a walk to Mers. She would be left stranded as the Cougars picked up back to back strikeouts to end the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Strider opened things up for the Cougars with a base hit. She would be thrown out at second moments later for out number one. The Cougars would put one more runner on base, but she would be left stranded as the Wildcats ended the inning with back to back outs. After four innings, this one was still tied at 6 all.

In the top of the fifth, the Cougars started with a ground out for out number one, but then gave up back to back base hits to Herring and Gee. Both runners would be left stranded as the Cougars picked up back to back outs to end the inning. McDuffie began the bottom of the fifth for the Cougars with a base hit. Back to back outs by the Wildcats put some pressure on the Cougars, but a RBI single from Lexi Auman sent McDuffie in for the score breaking the 6-6 tie. Lindsey Auman stepped to the plate for a base hit, but she and Lexi Auman would be left stranded as SERMS got the final out of the inning.

It was a short inning for SERMS in the top of the sixth as they put just one runner on base. SWRMS would start the inning with an out and then picked up back to back outs after giving up a double. In the bottom of the sixth, Maness and Caressa King got back to back base hits to put runners on base for the Cougars. Beck delivered a run with a RBI single that scored Maness. With one out, Robbins slammed a RBI triple to clear the bases as she scored King and Beck making it a 10-6 game. SERMS finished the bottom of the sixth with back to back outs. After six complete, the SWRMS Cougars led SERMS 10-6.

SWRMS opened the top of the seventh with an out, but then gave up back to back base hits to Herring and Gee. Hunter drew a walk that loaded the bases for the Wildcats. Addie Flinchum picked up a RBI single that sent Herring home to cut the lead to 10-7. With the in field fly rule taking place, the Cougars gained their second out of the inning. McDaniel used smart base running to steal home making it an 8-10 ball game. Hitting a RBI single was Dalana Loflin as she sent Hunter home to cut the lead to 9-10. Back to back base hits from Mers and #1 allowed the Wildcats to tie the game at 10 apiece. Next up a RBI double sent #1 and Mers home as they gave the lead back to the Wildcats at 12-10. The Cougars rallied together to get the third out of the inning. In the bottom of the seventh the Wildcats gained back to back popups to get the first two outs. Maness and King picked up back to back base hits, but both would be left stranded as the Wildcats finished the inning with a strikeout. SERMS stuns SWRMS for a 12-10 win to advance to the championship game.

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