St. Joe pitcher Christina Clayton, with shortstop Haley Green in the background [ Ken Paulk | The Star ]
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Lady Tiger Sharks split last two games in March

Port St. Joe split its final two games of the month, holding off 4A Wakulla 5-4 on Thursday, March 30, but taking it on the chin 8-1 against 3A Taylor County on Friday. 

The Tiger Sharks scored five unearned runs in their first at bat against Wakulla, taking advantage of several War Eagle miscues. 

With two outs, Brooklyn Bishop hit a single up the middle, followed by a walk to Elli Newman. Bishop came around to score when Wakulla’s catcher overthrew first base on Lauren Brant’s bunt, and Newman ended up at third base. 

Anniston Gainer came on as a courtesy runner for Brant, and promptly swiped second base. The next batter, Maelynn Butler, swung and missed at strike three, but the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Butler to stand safely at first and Newman to come home. 

After Butler stole second base, Addy Silcox lofted a soft pop between the pitcher and shortstop for the second hit of the inning to drive in Gainer. Wakulla’s sophomore pitcher, Charley Butler, would allow no more Shark base hits. 

Chelsea Bishop, the eighth St. Joe batter of the inning, hit what ordinarily would have been a routine grounder to second, but an error by the first baseman allowed Bishop to be safe at first with Butler and Silcox scoring as a result. 

When the inning ended, Port St. Joe had a 5-0 lead. 

Wakulla put runners at second and third with only one out in the top of the second, but Christina Clayton bore down and fanned the next two batters to end the threat. 

The War Eagles did manage a run in the third inning, but Makenzie Marlow tried to stretch her rbi hit into a double only to be thrown out by Newman from right field. 

Wakulla put three more runs on the board in their next at bat in the fourth inning to draw closer at 5-4. 

With one out, Jenna Cross hit a shot that glanced off the side of Clayton’s right knee, but Clayton remained in the game only to hit the next batter. The next two batters hit fielder’s choices, but a St. Joe error allowed one run to score and the inning to continue. 

Leadoff hitter Elizabeth Austin followed with her second hit of the game to drive in two more runs and bring Brooklyn Bishop to the pitching circle in relief. 

With the score 5-4 in St. Joe’s favor, the next batter flew out to Chelsea Bishop in left field. Meanwhile, Butler kept mowing the Shark hitters down without any more hits during the game.

With two outs in the Wakulla sixth, Bishop walked two batters, but a popup to shortstop ended the inning. St. Joe put two runners of their own on base in the sixth as a result of an error and a walk, but two consecutive popups prevented any more scoring. 

In the War Eagle seventh, the leadoff batter hit safely, but Brant threw her out on a steal attempt. With two outs and runners on first and third, Chelsea Bishop ended the game with a catch in left field, bringing both teams’ records to 7-6. 

After the game, St. Joe coach Lissa Walker said “Right now, we’ll take gifts,” referring to the Wakulla first inning errors. “Usually, we’re the ones giving the gifts.” 

“We’ll take (the win), because we needed it,” she said. 

The gifts would not fall upon the Sharks the following night, though, as the 3A Taylor County Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their way to an 8-1 win. 

For the second night in a row, St. Joe managed only two hits. The lone run came in the first inning after Kali Austerman got on base via being hit by a pitch and later scored on Newman’s hit. Silcox got the other Shark hit, but St. Joe could muster no more hits or runs. 

“Taylor County is a good team,” said Walker. “Christina (Clayton) took a ball to the face during warmups, so that took the air out of us and we came out flat.” 

“We did have a few positives and things to build on,” she added, “but definitely wanted to play better.” Taylor County improved to 9-4, while Port St. Joe fell to 7-7. 

After hosting Liberty County (11-6) on Tuesday, April 4, the Sharks will visit Wakulla on Thursday, April 6. Franklin County will come to town on Tuesday, April 11.