Lady Hornets punch ticket to Sulphur with upset win over Downsville

Published 3:09 pm Sunday, April 24, 2022

By Daniel Green | BWS Sports
HORNBECK — It is said that teams with nothing to lose are the scariest to play.
Third-ranked Downsville found that out the hard way on Saturday evening as the 11th-seeded Hornbeck Lady Hornets manufactured a 3-2 victory over the Lady Demons in the Class C quarterfinals.
“I’m just so excited for these girls,” Hornbeck head coach Tonya Rhodes said. “It took a little while for us to get our bats going, but we played pretty good defensively to keep us in it.”
The Lady Hornets will now take on second-seeded Harrisonburg on Friday at Frasch Park in Sulphur in the Class C semifinals. Most of the players on this year’s version of the Lady Hornets were still in diapers the last time Hornbeck played in Sulphur.
Downsville took the initial lead of the game when Abby Barkley reached base on an error and later scored on a single off the bat of Piper Bennett, giving the Lady Demons a 1-0 advantage.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the third when Hornbeck senior and all-state basketball standout Hannah Dahlhoff reached by virtue of a walk and scored on an error that allowed Morgan Smith to reach, knotting the game at 1-1.
Hornbeck added another unearned run in the fourth inning when Hannah Mitchell was hit by a pitch. She took second on a steal. Shelby Sullivan drew a one-out walk and Mitchell later took off for third. However, Downsville catcher Eden Miller fired the ball to third, where there was nobody covering the bag, allowing the ball to bound into the outfield, allowing Mitchell to score for a 2-1 Hornbeck lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Hornets registered their first hit of the contest when Smith singled  and later scored on a single off the bat of starting pitcher Abby Nicholas, giving Hornbeck a 3-1 cushion.
Downsville responded with a run in the sixth as pitcher Emma Boggs doubled and later scored on an RBI-single from Stormy Tarter. Tarter eventually reached third base after a Sunnee Miller single, but Nicholas sat down the next two batters to keep Hornbeck in the lead, 3-2.
The seventh inning proved to have a little drama. Nicholas struck out Alissa Smith to open the frame and forced a flyout off the bat of Barkley to Jayda James in left field.
Desarae Frazier stepped to plate and struck out. However, Hornbeck catcher McKenzie McNeely saw the ball pass her by, while allowed Frazier a chance to reach base. McNeely overthrew Daylyn Shelly and Frazier touched the bag safely.
However, Frazier turned into the infield toward second, where she was tagged out by Smith for what appeared to be the final out of the game. However, after much discussion, Frazier was allowed to take first, which brough Boggs up to the plate.
Frazier took second on a straight steal, but Boggs flied out into foul territory to James in left field, officially ending the game.
Nicholas was stellar in the circle for the Lady Hornets, striking out 12 batters as she surrendered two runs on five hits with only one walk.
“Abby works so hard and plays with a lot of heart,” Rhodes said. “When they put the girl back on base in the seventh, she just took a deep breath and refocused. She has done that all year long.”
Offensively, the Lady Hornets registered just three hits. Nicholas had a hit and an RBI, while Smith had a hit and a run scored. Jaida Davis added a pinch-hit double for the Lady Hornets.
Boggs went the distance for the Lady Demons, giving up three runs on three hits with seven strikeouts and five walks. Offensively, the Lady Demons got a double and a run scored from Boggs, while Bennett had a hit and an RBI.