By Jerry Fekete
Civitas News Service
MAN - The Man High School softball team claimed the Class A sectional championship with an easy 17-0 mercy-rule win over Tug Valley on Tuesday night at Man.
The Lady Billies, ranked No. 5 in the state in Class A, improved to 18-5 on the season with the win and have advanced to play in next week’s regional semifinals where Man is likely to have a showdown at No. 4 Sherman.
Man won for the third time this season against Tug Valley, which finished its season with an 0-11 record. The Lady Billies also won 11-0 and 17-0 over the Lady Panthers during the regular season.
Man senior ace pitcher Taylor Tomblin hurled a two-hit shutout. She struck out 10 batters and walked only one. Tug Valley hurler Bree Shrum suffered the loss.
The Lady Billies hammered out 10 hits in the win and took advantage of nine Tug Valley errors.
Man wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as the Lady Billies plated three runs in the top of the first inning.
Kelly Grimmett reached base on an error to get things started. Summer Sword then laid down a bunt and an overthrow by Tug Valley allowed both Grimmett and Sword to score as Man led 2-0. Madison Keffer later scored after she walked and came home on another error for the third run.
Man built its lead to 6-0 in the second inning.
Casey Albright led off with a free pass and scored on an RBI double by Sword to make it 4-0. Emilee Osborne then reached base on an error, which scored Sword. Two more Lady Panthers led to another run as Man led 6-0.
After going out in order in the first, Tug Valley’s Shana Messer reached base with a hit in the second inning. Tomblin then fanned the next batters and Messer got picked off at first base for the third out.
The Lady Billies then busted the game wide open with an eight-spot in the top of the fourth inning to increase the lead to 14-0.
Madison Keffer had a double and two RBI in the frame. Micayla Gibson also had an RBI hit as did freshman Emily Toler, Grimmett and Sword during the eight-run outburst.
Tomblin got Tug Valley out in order in the bottom of the fourth and Man coach Randy Epperly soon emptied his bench.
In the fifth, Man’s subs plated three more runs to up the margin to 17-0.
Tomblin then struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth inning as the game was called due to the mercy rule.