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Young Lady Bulldogs put up a fight in a 12-2 loss to Cardinal Newman

Posted: March 20, 2017 4:37 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S JOLIE CLYBURN PREPARES to field this comebacker off the bat of Cardinal Newman’s Erin Boyer in the fourth inning of Camden’s 12-2 loss last Thursday evening.

As some Cardinal Newman fans started packing up their chairs and prepared for the trip back home to Columbia with their softball team ready to close out Camden early last Thursday, the host Lady Bulldogs delayed that trip for a few more minutes.

That, said CHS head coach Lynn Looney, speaks volumes for her young and inexperienced group which is finding its way through --- for most of her players --- their first varsity season.

After having scored four runs in the top of the sixth to pad their margin to 12-0, the Lady Cardinals were ready to put this game to bed early. Camden, however, would not let the guests leave too early as a two-run bottom of the sixth nearly amounted to more, which would have extended to game to being played in its entirety.

The Lady Bulldogs left the bases loaded in the home half of the sixth in a frame in which they could have folded their tents and gone home early on a cold late-winter evening.

Looney said the fight which her team showed in the final half-inning of a 12-2 loss exemplified the spirit which she has seen from her squad throughout the young season.

“The girls are fighting to the end and they’re not giving up; that’s a great thing to see,” Looney said. “We believe in them and they believe in themselves. This is only going to make us better in the long run.”

With CHS trailing, 12-0, Christian Welch led off the home half of the sixth by reaching on an error. Brianna Dow then took CN reliever Jasmine Hogan to the fence in right center for a double for her third hit in as many trips to the plate. After Davia Stuckey walked to load the bases, Jolie Clyburn smacked a two-run single to center --- her second hit of the night --- to cut the lead to 12-2 and put the hostesses within a run of pushing this game to a seventh frame.

With two gone, Stuckey was thrown out at the plate trying to score from this on a Savannah Jackson grounder. The bases were still loaded when Hogan got a called third strike on an outside fastball to close the Camden threat and put an end to this non-region pairing.

The visitors scored a run off Clyburn, a freshman right-hander, in the second as Hogan’s double to left was followed by an RBI single to center off the bat of Kendall Watson. CN tacked on a pair of unearned runs in the third to extend its lead to 3-0 before adding another unearned run in the fourth in what would be Clyburn’s final inning of work before handing the ball over to classmate Madison McNeil, who went the final two frames.

The two freshman righties have been given the task of splitting up the pitching chores following the graduation of Kennedi Stokes last spring. Like most of her team, Looney said the pitching staff is getting used to the speed of the game at the varsity level.

“We have two young pitchers and right now; we’re a work in progress,” she said. “The speed isn’t there, yet, but we’re getting there.  Right now, we just want to throw consistent strikes.”

The Lady Cards scored four runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings while helped along by a pair of Camden errors in each frame on a night in which the Lady Bulldogs committed six miscues in the field.

Offensively, Camden collected six hits off the combination of Maddie Dinkins --- who left with one out in the bottom of the second with an illness --- and Hogan, who came into the circle after having started the game at shortstop.

Dow and Clyburn combined for five hits with Clyburn driving in two runs. Hannah Baker had the sixth hit for the home side with a third inning single. CHS also fanned eight times which left Looney wondering what happened to her team’s offense.

“Our bats have, kind of, let us down a little bit,” she said. “In our preseason games, we were hitting the ball a lot better. For whatever reason, we’re hitting a dry spell but we have seen some improvement so they’re coming around.”

Looney, whose team opened Region 4-AAA action against Indian Land on Monday, played all 14 players on her roster and mixed and matched different combinations as she and her coaching staff tries to find the right mix with league play coming up. She said that before this season is all said and done, she expects to have settled down as to which pieces fit in which places on the field and in the batting order.

“We are young and a little bit inexperienced. We knew this would be a learning year for us,” she admitted. “Most of our players are progressing very well, I think.”

 

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