By PATRICK CASEY and REID TUCKER
The South Walton Seahawks defeated Freeport 2-0 to capture the 2012 Walton County Softball Tournament on their home field on Friday night.
The Seahawks, who hosted the event for the first time in school history, won a scintillating battle with their arch-rival with the help of a pair of RBI singles from Leah Ellison and a strong pitching performance from Meagan Ellison as she allowed the Bulldogs only four hits in the contest.
The Seahawks plated a run in the bottom of the first inning with two outs as three consecutive singles scored Camille Cosson for a 1-0 lead.
That margin held until the bottom of the fifth inning when Mackenzie Watson walked and eventually scored after a sacrifice bunt and a pair of singles stretched the lead to 2-0. The Seahawks had other opportunities to add to the lead but stranded nine baserunners on the night as Freeport pitcher Rani Simmons got solid support from her defense to keep the game close.
Freeport managed to put a runner on base in five of the seven innings they came to the plate but stranded each one as Ellison limited the Bulldogs’ opportunities while striking out six and walking none.
“You host a tournament, you want to win it,” South Walton coach Phil Tisa said after the game. “We left a lot of people on base but the pitching and defense made plays we have to make heading into the district tournament.”
The two teams combined for three errors in the contest but none of the miscues came home to roost in a game that took only 85 minutes to complete as South Walton finished the regular season with a 16-7 record while Freeport fell to 10-14 overall.
Walton took the consolation title with a 10-5 victory over Paxton in the first game on Friday afternoon.
The Braves played one of their better defensive games of the season and took advantage of a bases-loaded error by Paxton in the top of the first inning to plate four runs for the early lead.
Paxton got a run back in the bottom of the inning as Sidney Beck singled and later scored on Bethany Neale’s single to cut the lead to 4-1.
The Braves added two more runs in the fourth inning as Kristian Ealum walked and Mara Morse singled with both eventually scoring due to stolen bases, a wild pitch and a groundout.
Walton upped the lead to 8-1 in the top of the fifth inning as Treasa Herndon singled with pinch-runner Christina Kirkland scoring after an error on a sacrifice attempt by Kaylyn Douglass and a groundout from Kayla Chancey.
Paxton cut the lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning as singles by Beck, Leah Infinger and Neale plated the Bobcats second run of the day.
Walton added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning as Ealum and Courtney Ellis singled before Mara Morse, who had three hits including two doubles, drove them in for a 10-1 lead.
Paxton struck for three runs in their final chance in the bottom of the seventh inning as Walton’s defense committed four errors in the infield on hard to handle squib-shots that left the Braves befuddled just two outs away from a victory. Leftfielder Kayla Chancey, who helped to turn a double play with a nice catch and throw in the sixth inning to stop a Paxton scoring threat, made a grab in foul territory of a drive by Haley Revette to record the second out of the inning. The Bobcats then got singles from Layce Miller and Brianna Swanson to cut the lead to 10-5 but left the bases loaded as a groundout ended the game.
Walton improved to 2-21 on the year with the win as they beat Paxton for the second time in 2012 while the Bobcats fell to 3-16 overall.
It was all about the Seahawks on the first day of the tournament, as the host team swept Walton 15-1 in five innings, while Freeport went the distance with Paxton to win a 15-11 slugfest…..
Read the full story in the April 19, 2012 edition of the Herald Breeze.