By REID TUCKER
Walton’s softball team just about had the game locked down by the fifth inning against Laurel Hill: hot pitching and solid batting had already given way to a four-oh Braves lead, an easy pick-off play at first was in the works thanks to an overzealous base runner and one out was already in the bag.
However, the game was far from wrapped up, as, several fielding miscues later, the Lady Hoboes (5-9) had scored five runs, evaporating Walton’s four-run lead. Suddenly, the Lady Braves (7-12) found themselves forced into a comeback ballgame with just two innings to work with. Fortunately for Walton, the tables turned once again and a solid three-hit at-bat in the bottom of six added the two runs needed to pull out a 6-5 win at home.
Integral to Walton’s win on Tuesday, April 12, was freshman pitcher Camille Cosson. Her nine strikeouts (five of which came in the first three innings) helped keep Laurel Hill scoreless through the fifth inning and closed out the Lady Hoboes once the Lady Braves were back in the lead. Cosson is on a bit of a roll lately, as she struck out a school-record-tying 17 batters in a contest against Rocky Bayou just days prior to the win over Laurel Hill and as such, she got no shortage of praise from Walton coach Stan Bosenberg.
“Camille is playing really confident right now after that victory on Friday where she had 17 ks,” Bosenberg said. “She is just overpowering on the mound right now.”
Walton jumped to an early one-run lead right from the top of the lineup as Shelbie Standland crushed one to make it around for a score in the first inning. After that, things were more or less quiet until the bottom of the third, when the Lady Braves got four hits (of their eight total) in a row off of Laurel Hill’s Kasey Harrison. Walton scored three times in the inning, as the next batters, Alex Henderson and Raven Motley, were hit by the ball and walked, respectively, which cycled in Cosson and Chelsea Hurley for two more runs while Gillian Infinger reached first and brought around Kaylyn Douglass.
Laurel Hill, however, was not down for the count, despite being put down in order in their next at-bat. Harrison gave up just one hit in the Braves’ next turn at the plate and she and the infield combined to retire the Braves before any further blood could be drawn. Then, in the top of five, came Laurel Hill’s massive five-run spree that nearly did in the Lady Braves.
Walton struggled through the remainder of the fifth, leaving runners on first and second, before getting a hit out of Standland and Treasa Herndon with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. An error on Laurel Hill’s center fielder allowed Standland to score the tying run and, with two outs on the board, a hit from Henderson drove in Herndon to give Walton the lead going into the final inning.
The Lady Hoboes got a hit from Brittany Baggett to start off the seventh but the next three batters were retired in order by the Braves infielders and a final strikeout from Cosson to give Walton the win at 6-5.
Laurel Hill coach Scott Varnum commended his players’ efforts, especially at the plate in their towering five-run fifth inning, and wrote the loss off as “just one of those things.” He said his ballclub has steadily improved its batting after falling on doldrums in the midseason. That resurgence of aggressive work at the plate, he said, will pay dividends come the district tournament a week later.
“Our big thing was not to come out flat,” Varnum said. “We didn’t want to look at third strikes. We’ve have some really tight games [at Walton] in the last four or five years that have gone down to the seventh inning. We just want to take this and move forward into our next game.”
Walton’s top hitters were Herndon, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Henderson, who also had two RBIs plus a single in three appearances at the plate.