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Eagle chicks rule the Nest

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Owens' walk-off tater is the difference

By Mike Forster

  For one girl, it was every player’s dream come true.

Hannah Owens smacked a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel her team to a victory over Liberty on Friday night.

In a game that had more twists than a bag of pretzels, Owens dramatic shot topped them all.

The tater saved the Golden Eagles from losing a game they had led by as much as 9-2, before watching Liberty storm back to take the lead.

The homer may give the shot of confidence this program has needed.

Owens’s blast was straight out of the movie “The Natural,” absent, of course, the cheesy music and exploding lights.

“It’s been a while,” said Owens of the victory.  “This is a big win.”

No doubt.  Beating the defending Seminole champion is a big thing.

That the Lady Eagles didn’t let victory trickle through their fingers may be the biggest thing of all.

Behind an offense that can best be described as “formidable,” Liberty pounded the dog meat out of the ball.  The Minettes chalked up an astounding 22 hits for the night. (River was none-too-shabby, picking up 14 hits.)

After five innings, the score stood at Staunton River 12, Liberty 11, and all bets were off.

The Minettes nearly tied it in the top of the sixth.  Gabbi Spinner put down the suicide squeeze bunt attempt with Stacy Campbell on third.

River pitcher Amanda Ferguson pounced on the ball and fired to first to get Spinner.  Addie Tuck rifled it back to catcher Michaela Hiett to get Campbell.

Liberty Head Coach Jeff Monroe stormed out of his dugout to contest the call, but the men in blue were not swayed.

River put up some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, as a pair of Liberty errors resulted in a pair of River runs.  Only Spinner’s running catch of a Hiett line drive staunched the bleeding.

The order of business for the top of the seventh was simple:  River wanted three outs; Liberty wanted three (or more) runs.

KiKi Jones singled up the middle.  She came home on Morgan Wood’s single.  Wood also came home on Wood’s single as River enabled one of those “Little League home runs,” the kind where the ball, somehow, winds up in the outfield due to various miscues.

Liberty pitcher Jamie Bennett then mauled a double to the center field wall and Megan Naples chipped a Texas Leaguer.  Samantha Baldwin’s dribbler to third scored Bennett to even the score at 14, apiece.

Campbell’s bunt attempt resulted in a double play that was nearly identical to that which  happened in the sixth.

Both plays wound up with the runner from third called out at home.  Both plays were keyed by stinging throws from Tuck.  Both plays ended the inning.  Both plays resulted in animated visits to the umps from Coach Monroe.

Eagle Head Coach Duck Dellis told his charges, “See what you’re made of.  Will you come back or let them take it away from you?”

River responded as Dellis had hoped.  Ashleigh Kelly drilled a shot past a diving Kaylyn Mehaffey at second.

Lauren Mitchell put down a perfect sacrifice bunt.  Abby Moran bunted safely aboard to put runners on the corners.

That set the stage for Owens.  Needing just to get the ball out of the infield to score the winning run, Owens chose this opportunity to hit her first-ever over the fence home run.

“I’ve dreamed of something like this since the first time I played softball,” she said.

Haven’t we all, young lady?  Haven’t we all?