By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— It was a day for hitters with Gardendale and Corner, as the Rockets got three doubles from Lauren Rovi and a two-run homer from Sara Beth Williamson to win 9-4 Thursday afternoon.
Corner pitcher Jordan Entrekin struggled in the circle, mainly due to defensive mistakes behind her, but had a big day in the batter's box with a pair of homers, accounting for all four of the Yellow Jacket runs.
Gardendale got on the board in the first inning, when lead-off batter Caroline Casaday drew a walk, moved to second on a bunt, to third on a ground out and then scored when Chelsey Deloney hit a double off the top of the right field fence.
The Rockets scored again in the second inning on the first of Lauren Rovi's three doubles in the game, followed by a run-scoring single by Sara Beth Williamson.
The Jackets tied the game in the fourth on Entrekin's first home run, a three-run shot well over the fence in right.
Gardendale went ahead for good on another Rovi double which brought home Kristin Lange and Taylor Dailey. Rovi then scored when Williamson's ground ball to second base was misplayed, one of four Corner errors that resulted in six unearned runs.
Entrekin got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning with her lead-off homer way beyond left field.
Williamson's homer put the game farther out of reach for the Rockets in the sixth, followed by an RBI single by Lange that sent home Bragan Burns.
Winning pitcher Cris Gant gave up only four hits – two of them on Entrekin's home runs – but did struggle with control, walking eight Yellow Jackets. Entrekin gave up nine hits and six walks, but only three of her nine runs were earned.
It's the kind of win that Gardendale coach Haley Nelson likes to see as her team goes into area tournament play, which begins Tuesday on their home field.
“We still have a few kinks to work out,” Nelson said. “But so far, we are looking good. Offensively we played well, and we did well in the field once we settled down in the circle.”
Corner coach Aaron James thought even better of the Rockets: “That's the best Gardendale team I've seen in six years. Coach Nelson is doing a great job with them.”
About his own team, James was optimistic despite the loss.
“Jordan had a great game. She pitched fine, but the difference was the six unearned runs,” he said. “But this game's going to benefit us going into the playoffs. We have a lot to learn from this game, and a ton to work on. The last two or three weeks we've played probably some of the best ball we've played all year. And the good thing is that we haven't hit our peak. Let's hope we hit it next Thursday.”
That's when the Jackets travel to Haleyville for their area tournament, a one-day affair in which they are the second seed. But before that, they finish off the season by taking on Hueytown, ranked seventh statewide in Class 5A, on the road Friday evening at 5.