By JOHN SMITHSON
The Lady Chiefs varsity softball team began their season with the Loris Preseason Tournament last Friday through Monday, with the Chiefs facing host team Loris for the championship on Monday night. Unfortunately the Lady Lions won the championship game 12-2.
The Lady Chiefs began play in the tournament with a 6-4 victory over Carolina Forest last Friday. The Chiefs were led by Aaliyah Earl’s double and home run that drove in two runs. She also scored three runs.
The teams each scored a single run in the first inning, and after a scoreless second, the Chiefs scored one run in the bottom of the third and fourth innings to lead 3-1. The Lady Panthers tied the score with two runs in the top of the fifth inning, but the Chiefs went back in front 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Carolina Forest tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the sixth, but the Chiefs scored two runs in the bottom of that inning for the 6-4 win.
Nealy Lockner pitched a complete game for the Chiefs while giving up two walks and four earned runs.
Carolina Forest pitching gave up two earned runs as they had seven errors to help the Chiefs to their victory.
The Lady Chiefs next game was Saturday against Green Sea Floyds. This was an easy win for the Chiefs as they scored 4, 2, 4, 7, and 3 runs in the first five innings, and won the game 21-1. The game was called by rule after five innings.
The Chiefs pounded out 21 hits, with Earl knocking in two runs, scoring four more on three doubles. Sadie Olson had five RBIs on two hits and Nealy Lockner had four runs batted in. Hadley Leonhardt had two hits and drove in three runs. Cheyenne Davis also hit a solo home run for the Chiefs offense. Every Chiefs player had at least two hits.
Cheyenne Davis held the Lady Trojans to one run in five innings for the win.
The second game the Lady Chiefs played was Saturday against the Conway Lady Tigers. This was a five inning affair with the Chiefs the visiting team. Conway scored two runs in the bottom of the first for a 2-0 lead. Conway added a run in the bottom of the third after the Chiefs picked up a run in the top of that inning for a 3-1 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Chiefs scored four runs in the top of the fifth to lead 5-3, but Conway scored three in the bottom of the fifth to win 6-5. The Chiefs had nine hits in the game, seven of those doubles, with RBIS by Leonhardt, Earl, Olson and two by Isabella Bruno.
Conway scored their six runs on 13 hits, depriving Sierra Bendik a chance for a pitching win.
The Chiefs ended Saturday’s play with a 4-1 five inning victory over Marion. The Chiefs scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the second inning, with Earl accounting for three RBI on a home run and Mia Cousins getting the second RBI in the inning.
Nealy Lockner pitched a five hitter shutout for the win. That win then put the Chiefs into the championship game Monday night.
Aaliyah Earl got the Chiefs going in the first inning against Loris with a leadoff double over third base into the left field corner. She stole third and came home on an errant throw to third by Loris. Loris tied it in the bottom of the first after a walk, single and sacrifice fly for a run.
After the Chiefs failed to score in the second, Loris scored two in the bottom of the second to lead 3-1. The Chiefs got an unearned run in the top of the third after Earl was safe at first on an infield hit, went to second, was sacrificed to third and scored on an error by the Loris second baseman for a 3-2 score.
The Lions then added two more runs in the bottom of the third on a home run by pitcher Hayden Day for a 5-2 lead. Day also shut down the Chiefs, while her teammates put the game away with a six run fifth, a run in the sixth, and a 12-2 tournament championship. Aaliyah Earl was the only Chiefs player to solve the Loris pitching with a double and single.
The Lady Chiefs next game is March 7th at St James.
Chiefs softball coach Danny Susral was realistic about the game results but also generally pleased with his team’s performance so far this year.
“Loris is a very talented, well-coached team and I think they’re going to have a very successful season. They jumped on us when we made mistakes and played a solid, complete game. We made a few too many ill-timed mistakes, and didn’t quite jump on them as hard when they made mistakes. There were some positives though. Nealy pitched a good game. Aaliyah and a couple others had some good at-bats throughout the game, but we’ve just got to put it all together,” Susral said.
“We learned a lot about ourselves over this past weekend and we saw glimpses of what we can achieve when we are playing our best. This was a great test for us early on, and it’ll help prepare us for the upcoming season. We’ll learn from this, we’ll get better from this, and we believe in our team to put together a successful season. A big thanks to Loris for putting on another successful preseason tournament. We always enjoy participating,” Susral concluded.