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SOFTBALL: Aldridge's gritty performance for naught in 2-1 loss to Butler

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By John Herndon

The difference between winning and losing on the softball diamond is often the little things. Never was it more apparent than Louisville Butler's 2-1 win over host Anderson County last Wednesday.

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The Bearettes scored the winning run when catcher Larissa Book dropped a weak flare just out of the reach of two Anderson defenders with two out in the top of the seventh. Danielle Teague, running for Courtney Rose, trotted home with the game winner.

It spoiled a gritty performance from Anderson pitcher Mia Aldridge. The freshman struck out eight and gave up only one earned run to a Butler team that won its 20th game.

“I thought (Aldridge) was amazing,” Anderson coach Brian Glass said. “She gave up only one earned run against one of the better teams in the state. She mixed in and out very well.”

Butler had gotten the winning rally started when Courtney Rose, who went 3-for-3 on the evening, led off with a single. After going to second on a Ashley Wilkerson's sacrifice, Teague advanced to third when a breaking pitch got away from Aldridge and catcher Bailey Curry.

With only one out and the winning run 60 feet from home, Aldridge got Gretchen Bell on a called third strike. It set the stage for Book's decisive hit.

Anderson, meanwhile, had little luck at the plate. The Lady Bearcats managed just three hits and were plagued by “at 'em” balls throughout the contest. No one seemed to be more of a victim than freshman first baseman Katelyn Harrod. Already robbed of a hit by Bell in center field with a runner on second in the bottom of the fifth, Harrod launched a rocket with two out and a runner on second in the seventh. Unfortunately for Anderson, it went directly to Butler second baseman Hailey Whitmer.

“I thought we hit the ball as well as they did,” Glass said. “They had six hits, we had three, but we had 11 or 12 quality at-bats where line drives or hard hit balls where caught. They just didn't get through.”

Anderson had a some hope in the bottom of the sixth when Curry belted her fourth home run of the year, a no-doubter that cleared the center field fence, tying things at 1.

After Butler went back ahead, the Lady Bearcats tried to mount a two-out rally when designated player Alissa Vest drew a walk and pinch-runner Lexan Overby went to second on Abby Ziegler's wild pitch before Whitmer snared Harrod's liner to end things.

Butler had scored an unearned run in the third but could not take advantage of what appeared to be a night when Aldridge did not have her absolute best stuff. Eight Butler hitters went to 3-ball counts, but only one walked.

Glass, however, said looks were a bit deceiving. “She was going deep in the count often times hitting the corners which contributed to her high strike out numbers,” he said of Aldridge.

Aldridge seemed to get stronger as the game went on. She never went to a 3-ball count the last time through the Butler order.

Despite giving up an unearned run, Glass felt the Anderson defense continued to improve heading to Monday's district tournament opener. He noted that the Lady Bearcats had four freshmen, a sophomore and an eighth-grader in the infield against Butler. Harrod started a reverse 3-6 double play and second baseman Kaci Currens made several spectacular stops against Butler.

But it was not enough.

 

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