[ Stock image ]
| |

Lady Tiger Sharks win two in a row

Port St. Joe snapped its three-game losing streak with two wins this week, none bigger than Tuesday night’s 6-4 defeat of Franklin County, handing the Seahawks their first loss in six games and their first District 4 loss. 

The Tiger Sharks followed that up with a come-from-behind 16-11 win at Leon High School in Tallahassee on Friday, April 14, evening their season record at 9-9. 

With head coach Lissa Walker watching the game on crutches from the dugout after being struck by a line drive during Monday afternoon’s practice, the Tiger Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Franklin County ace pitcher Sarah Ham. 

With two outs and Addy Silcox standing on second base, Seahawk coach Scott Collins elected to intentionally walk Kali Austerman and face Brooklyn Bishop instead. Bishop answered with a smash that hit the base of the fence in left-center field and drive in both Silcox and Austerman. 

The St. Joe defense recorded a double play to snuff a potential Seahawk rally in the second inning. 

With one out and a runner at second base, the next batter grounded out to Green at shortstop. When the runner at second ran for third base, Bishop threw from first across the diamond to Austerman at third who tagged the runner, ending the inning. 

Franklin took a 4-2 lead in their half of the third inning against Shark starting pitcher Christina Clayton. 

With two on and one out, Lilah Millender singled to drive in the first run, and then Addison Mallon’s fielder’s choice tied the score. 

The big blow came courtesy of Micahlyn O’Neal’s two-out single, which sent two more runners scurrying home and gave the Seahawks a 4-2 lead. 

After a hit batsman and a stolen base, assistant coach Tracy Browning sent Bishop to the circle to replace Clayton, and she induced a popup to end the inning. 

Making maximum use of the bunting game, St. Joe tied the score in the fourth inning. 

Clayton started the rally with a one-out hit just off the shortstop’s glove. After Maelynn Butler came in to run for Clayton, Green put down a perfect bunt and sped safely to first base. After a flyout, both runners advanced a base on a passed ball. 

The next batter, Anniston Gainer, hitting from the left side as Green had done, put down another perfect bunt to drive in Butler. When the throw to first sailed high, Green came home to tie the game and Gainer sped all the way to third base.

“We flipped Annie (Gainer) and Hailey (Green) over as slappers because they were struggling on the right side,” said Walker after the game. “They both have been a big surprise, they’ve got speed, and they have bought into being a slapper. They’ve done a really good job.” 

The Shark defense pulled off a spectacular double play in the Seahawk fifth inning. After a leadoff walk, Ham hit a ball that went to the fence in right center field and appeared destined to be for extra bases. 

However, with Ham running for second base, center fielder Addy Creekmore threw a bullet to second. Since the first runner had stopped there, Ham tried to return to first where Trinity Farmer tagged her out after a throw from Green. 

Farmer, recently brought up from the JV team, immediately fired to Austerman at third to nip the runner from second and complete the second St. Joe double play of the night. 

Although Franklin did put two more runners on in the inning, a popup ended the inning with no Seahawk scoring. 

St. Joe put its final two runs on the board in their half of the fifth. With one out, Elli Newman hit a triple to right field and promptly trotted home on Austerman’s hustle double. This time, the Seahawks intentionally walked Bishop, and Lauren Brant came on as a courtesy runner. 

Normally the Shark catcher, Brant has a hurt shoulder from “a lot of wear and tear,” according to Walker. “She’s out indefinitely right now, and starts therapy next week.” 

After a double steal and a walk to Clayton to load the bases, the Seahawks brought the infield in to prevent another bunt hit by Green. 

With the infield drawn in, Green lofted a ball that hit the ground beyond the fielders so that the runners advanced and Austerman scored. 

However, the field umpire chose to impose the infield fly rule even though no infielder was in a position to catch the ball, but the run still stood because runners can advance at their own peril. 

Staked to a two-run lead, Bishop and the defense got to work. Although Franklin worked two walks in the sixth and got a base hit in the seventh, the Tiger Sharks prevailed with no more runs allowed. 

“We needed this one,” said Walker. “We needed that monkey off our back.” 

Asked about her knee, Walker said that “It’s a really good bruise on my knee cap that will take a few weeks to heal. The doctor said by Monday, I should be able to go without crutches, depending on how patient I am.”

After talking to his team after the game, Seahawk coach Scott Collins said “We made a few baserunning mistakes, (but) you’ve got to give (St. Joe) credit. They played one heck of a game.” 

“They used their speed on a wet field,” he continued, “and their advantage is speed. They had some perfect bunts with runners on base and moved people.” 

“We’ll hopefully learn from it, and get better,” he said of his 13-6 Seahawks. 

St. Joe missed a chance to even their season record on Thursday night against Poplar Springs when the Atomics canceled the game due to their coach being sick. 

PSJ 16, Leon 11 

In a see-saw battle that had five lead changes, the Tiger Sharks prevailed against the Lions 16-11 Friday night. 

The Sharks led 2-1 after two, but the Lions took a 4-3 lead after the third before St. Joe added two more runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings to briefly hold a 7-4 lead only to see Leon tie the score with three runs of their own in the fifth. 

The momentum shifted once more in the sixth toward St. Joe as three more runs crossed the plate, but Leon added four of their own in their half of the sixth to take a slim 11-10 advantage. 

With six more runs in the top of the seventh, however, the Sharks allowed no more runs and they left the field with a hard-earned 16-11 win over the 5-10 Lions. 

“We played a pretty good game,” said Shark coach Lissa Walker. “Pitching was struggling a little, but our bats kept us in the game.” 

“Each time Leon would tie the game and take the momentum away, our offense would quiet them back down,” she said. “It was a great game in terms of our offense coming through with some timely hitting.” 

“We definitely know how to keep fighting, but that game was a little different in that our pitchers needed the offense and the offense was there for the pitchers,” she added. 

St. Joe will return to their friendly confines for a home contest against 9-11 Sneads on Thursday, April 20, and observe “senior night” before going to Taylor County (11-6) the next night.