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Dorman bats, pitching deliver in blanking L-E
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L-E’S BAILEY DOUGLAS FIRES a pitch to the plate in the first inning of Thurday’s 7-0 loss to Dorman in the first round of the 5A District 2 tournament. - photo by Tom Didato/C-I

Flattery got Dorman somewhere.

Scoring four times in the top of the first while issuing three intentional passes to Bailey Douglas onthe night, the visiting Lady Cavaliers advanced to Saturday’s winners’ bracket game in the 5A District 2 Upper State softball tournament with a 7-0 win over Lugoff-Elgin Thursday at Shelby Miles Memorial Field.

The Lady Demons, the Region 4 champions, were shut out for the first time this season by Dorman, which finished fifth in Region 2 and got into the postseason via an at-large bid.

L-E defeated J.L. Mann in Saturday’s elimination game and hosted Dorman, a 4-3 loser at Hillcrest, on Monday. The winner of the L-E vs. Dorman contest advances to Wednesday’s District 2 championship round at Hillcrest.

First-year L-E head coach Savannah Starling, who was in the dugout for just the second game this spring after having missed most of the season while on maternity leave, said her team is equipped to win four straight games.

“It’s a harder route, but we have to team to do it,” she said after having met with her teams in centerfield following Thursday’s setback. “We just have to execute; that’s what it comes down to. It’s going to be difficult because we’re going to have to go somewhere and beat somebody twice. We knew that was a possibility after we looked at our bracket.

“Going forward, we have to execute and execute early. We can’t afford to be waiting around.”

Douglas, a Coker signee, came into the game with gaudy numbers. She was batting at a .492 clip with half of her 30 hits going for home runs. She had 40 RBI, to boot. Thursday, Dorman never let her see a pitch in three trips as Douglas was bypassed with the pointing of a finger toward first base from the Lady Cavaliers’ dugout.

Douglas’ first free pass came with two gone and nobody on in the first. Her second came when she led off the fourth and then she was given a free pass with one out and nobody on base in the sixth. Only in the fourth was L-E able to advance Douglas as Kaley Goerlich followed with a single to left. It was one of two times in which the hostesses had runners in scoring position. The other time came in the seventh when the Lady Demons loaded the bases only for DHS right-hander Kasey Wolfe to complete the shutout by getting a liner to right field to end the night.

Starling said the DHS coaching staff did due diligence in deciding not to tempt fate in giving Douglas the Barry Bonds treatment.

“For Bailey, it’s frustrating,” Starling said. “You’re up six (runs) and you still take the bat out of a teenagers’ hand. To me, that’s hard, but it’s also a compliment to Bailey. They know how lethal she can be and they’re scared of her. I get that. Teams are going to keep doing that to us until we proved that we can score runs behind her.”

Douglas, who started the game in left field, was called to toe the rubber after Dorman opened the game with six straight singles while playing station-to-station softball. In a four-run top of the first, it was Emma Bright’s two-run single to center which plated runs two and three. Kayla Dempsey brought in the fourth run before Douglas came on to get out of the mess without allowing any more damage.

An inning later, the visitors made it 5-0 as Wolfe led off with a single before courtesy runner Emily Montgomery came home on Jack Busch’s one-out single to left. Dorman tacked on an unearned sixth run in the fourth 

With Douglas having been neutralized, Wolfe had her way. She pitched her way out of a mini-jam in the fourth when L-E threatened with Goerlich’s single following a walk to Douglas. Wolfe got the third out on one of the 12 pop fly outs which L-E hit into.

Wolfe ended the night allowing four hits while fanning three batters. The fly ball outs, Starling said, will not cut it.

“You can’t win a ball game like that,” Starling said. “They were very prepared for us; they did their research coming in. They knew we were a hard-hitting team and (their outfielders) played us on the fence.

“I went to my team in the third inning and said that we had to adjust (at the plate.) We had to start our hands at the top of the zone and beat the ball down. We waited until the bottom of the seventh to make that adjustment. Nobody can win like that.”

Dorman, which finished the night with 13 hits with Dempsey’s three leading the way, closed the scoring with a run in the seventh as Dempsey lined a two-out double to right and score on Kierra Godfrey’s single to shallow left.

The Lady Demons’ best scoring opportunity presented itself in their last at-bat.

Gracie Holland rapped a one-out single to left. Mathan Mooneyham followed with a double to left to put runners on second and third. With two gone, Caitlyn Curry drew a walk to load the bases while Douglas waited on the on-deck circle. Wolfe, though, got a liner to right to end the game.

Starling said her team was not surprised by Dorman’s ability to hit, field and pitch. “Dorman’s good at everything Dorman does,” she said of the Upstate’s program’s winning tradition in nearly every sport. “We knew going in that they were going to be a good team. Just because they got the at-large bid, it didn’t mean a thing to us. They come out of a really competitive region. I expected them to be good.”