After spotting the visitors from Wewahitchka a 5-0 lead on Monday night, March 27, Port St. Joe scored four times in the sixth inning to close the gap, but could not push any more runs across the plate against freshman pitcher Severa Haney as the Lady Gators left the field with a 5-4 win to bring their record to 3-8.
Falling to 6-6, St. Joe batters lifted 10 fly ball outs, including two of the final three outs of the game.
Wewa grabbed a 2-0 lead in their second at bat, sparked by a leadoff walk to Madison Forehand, the lone senior on the team.
She came all the way home from first base on a throwing error that allowed Hope Thompson to end up standing on third base before scoring on Emma Rustin’s sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning.
Forehand, recently named as the WMBB student-athlete of the week, said that being the only senior “was a lot of pressure, but I’m glad to be able to share what I know.”
Although the season has not lived up to the standards that Wewa has grown accustomed to having, Forehand said that “This game is big, obviously, but (what) matters throughout the season (is that) we’ve learned from everything.”
A walk and two Gator errors allowed Port St. Joe to load the bases with one out in their half of the second inning, but Haney bore down and struck out the next two batters to quell the threat.
Wewa added another run in the fourth inning on a double by Keersten Easter and an rbi groundout by Jordyn Ashby. Center fielder Addy Creekmore, who had two hits for the Sharks, ended the inning with a nice running catch to her left.
After St. Joe stranded two more runners in the fourth, Wewa scored their fourth and fifth runs in the top of the fifth.
Laiken Ferrell led off the inning with a double to the center field fence, her second extra base hit of the game, and came home on Savana Mayhann’s hard smash that glanced off Creekmore’s glove.
Following Mayhann’s theft of third base, Forehand laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, and ended up at second base after the unsuccessful throw home failed to prevent Mayhann from scoring.
It was at this point, with no outs in the inning, that Coach Lissa Walker brought Christina Clayton in to relieve Brooklyn Bishop in the pitching circle.
A strikeout and a throwout double play ended the threat, but the Tiger Sharks could not muster anything in their half of the fifth as the visitors still led 5-0.
However, with one out in the sixth, Port St. Joe finally got on the scoreboard.
Following a walk to Bishop, Anniston Gainer came in as a pinch runner. Kali Austerman, playing in her first game of the season after recovering from knee surgery, hit a sharp single to center. Elli Newman’s even sharper single drove in Gainer and Austerman.
Eden Rustin’s diving play to her left on Addy Silcox’s hard hit forced Newman at second, and then with two outs Haley Green executed a perfect bunt for a base hit.
With Silcox and Green occupying third and second, respectively, after steals, Creekmore’s hit to center drove in both runners to make the score 5-4.
With Haney faltering, Wewa pitching coach JD Green went to talk to her, and after the game he said that “I just asked her if she was tired, or was her back hurting? She said ‘no’, and I told her to get greedy.”
The next batter grounded out to shortstop, and the inning ended.
Port St. Joe’s Green, also a freshman, displayed some nifty glovework at shortstop in the Gator seventh.
Ashley Thompson led off with a single, but Green started a double play when she caught Ferrell’s low liner and threw to first to nip Thompson. Mayhann followed with a hard hit to Green’s left, which she smothered and threw a dart to first to end the inning.
Bishop’s two-out single to left gave St. Joe hope in their final at bat, but a popup ended the game.
Despite the disappointing loss, Austerman performed well in her first contest of the season. In four plate appearances, she had two walks, a single, and scored a run.
After taking her first walk, “I felt pretty good,” she said. “I was coming in with an amount of confidence, and I’m glad that I got on as much as I could.
Austerman and the Tiger Sharks had an opportunity to get back on the winning track with a visit to Bay High on Tuesday, and home games on Thursday and Friday.
The only other game for Wewa this week was against Blountstown on Tuesday night.
Wewa alum sees strong start to college career
Wewa alum Haley Guffey, who won 54 games for the Gators during her high school career, is doing quite well as the ace pitcher for the College of Central Florida Patriots, who are currently ranked 8th in NJCAA D1 as of March 27.
Guffey has a record of 21-2 with 134.1 innings pitched, a 1.20 ERA, and 150 strikeouts. She leads all junior college pitchers in wins and complete games (16), is 5th in shutouts (5), and 4th in strikeouts.