By Thomas Sellers Jr.
That potential void was the absence of senior leader and University of Memphis signee Kelsey Frizzell. But the gutsy Frizzell healed enough from her surgery to contribute to the Munford Lady Cougars in a limited role.
Her presence was felt tonight against the rival Brighton Lady Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh inning. Trailing 11-10 with a runner on base Mattie Rittinger, Frizzell stepped to the Munford Softball Field home plate with a chance to win the District 13-3A rivalry game.
With one swing, Frizzell jacked a pitch over the left-centerfield wall for a game-winning two-run homer sending the Lady Cougars home 12-11 winners.
“I’m happy for her,” Goulder said. “I’m happy for the whole team but I’m real, real proud for her. To go through the operation, I really didn’t think she was going to hit the field this year. Just to see her out there battling and battling make you feel good. Would make anybody feel good.”
Before Frizzell’s heroic moment, both Tipton County squads displayed their hitting skills for seven innings. The game’s leadoff batter Ta’Mya Johnson put Brighton ahead 1-0 in the first inning with a crush-job over the leftfield wall.
Robin Jacobs’ Lady Cardinals added three more runs in the first inning with a pass ball making the tally 2-0. Moments later Ta’Mya’s sister Teanna Johnson stroked a single to score the third run of the contest. Haley Simpson put Brighton ahead 4-0 with a base hit of her own to score a run.
Munford even the score at 4-4 in the bottom half of the first inning. Brighton apparently had control issues with no strike called facing the first five Lady Cougar batters. Three base on balls lead to two Munford runs. Then MaKayla Pugh singled to drive in a pair of runners to make the tally 4-4.
Brighton regained the lead in the second inning when Kailee Hunt hit a double to drive in Ta’Mya who reached base on a single. Four batters later Brighton when ahead 7-4 when Alyssa Camp hit a single to score Caylee Comer and Currie McIntyre.
By the end of the second inning, the score was 7-5 in favor of Brighton after Frizzell drove in a run for Munford with a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Cardinals were in search for some extra insurance in the fourth inning. Camp provided that piece of mind with a double clearing the bases of Comer, McIntyre and Gracie Poirier. Later in the inning Brighton went ahead 11-5 when Amanda Perry drove in Camp.
“We struggled and Brighton is a really good team,” Goulder noted. “I have a lot of respect for their team. Brighton hits the ball so well. But we’ve got to learn how to play a little bit of defense.
“We’ve got to get better at defense,” he continued. “Baskin came in and did a really good job. She kept them off balance a little bit and allowed us not to allow them to score in a couple of innings. That was a big turning point also.”
Riley Baskin kept the Lady Cardinals scoreless the rest of the game escaping a couple of threats. Meanwhile the Lady Cougars kept chipping away at the deficit. In the fifth inning Pugh smacked a double to drive in teammate Vada Butler to make the score 11-6.
Later in the frame Rittinger delivered a single to drive home a runner. An Brighton error allowed the eighth Munford run to cross home plate.
In the sixth inning the Lady Cougars brought out the heavy lumber starting with Butler. The senior third baseman jacked a solo shot over the wall to make the score 11-9.
“She’s swung such a good bat even before the season started,” Goulder said of Butler, the Class of 2018 Historian. “Both of my assistant coaches said, ‘She’s going to have to bat clean up. She’s killing the ball.’ I thought that was a real appropriate move. It’s paid off a lot for us. We’ve got some kids who can hit the ball really hard sometimes.”
Another Munford kid to hit the ball really hard was Pugh. Two batter later, Pugh hit a solo homer to make the score 11-10 at the end of six innings.
After Baskin recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh, Rittinger lead off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit. Two batters later Frizzell came up to the plate and delivered with a two-run shot to win the game.
“They’ll be ready,” Goulder said of Brighton for the April 17 rematch. “They’re good. They beat Dyer County last night 19-8. And Dyer County is a good team. So this is going to be anybody’s district. It’s whoever catches the break at the right time.”