VALDOSTA -- Lowndes High's softball team survived a stiff challenge from Valdosta High, before pulling out a 5-2 win Thursday.
Senior first baseman Amanda Parsons went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI on Senior Night, and sophomore Lindsey Radcliff gave the Vikettes (16-9, 7-1) four clutch innings of relief and drove in a key insurance run.
"We're glad to get the win, obviously," Lowndes head coach Jared Dickey said. "Valdosta played us tough -- they're a much-improved ballclub -- but we were able to pull it out."
The Valdosta team the Vikettes ran into Thursday was a much different one than the one they beat 18-0 earlier this year.
Valdosta took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Jessica Moore singled and stole second, then star shortstop Jill Courson singled into right field, scoring Moore.
Lowndes came back with a run in the bottom of the first. With two outs, cleanup hitter Suzanne Kluball lined a single into left field, scoring Parsons from second to tie the score.
Lowndes then took the lead in the bottom of the second. After Haley Radcliff was hit by a pitch and Alyssa Pittman walked, the left-handed hitting Parsons slapped a two-out single into right field to score both and give the Vikettes a 3-1 lead.
The game would then turn into a pitching duel the next three innings. Valdosta's Courtney Yoder and Lowndes' Alden Pope traded zeroes on the scoreboard. Radcliff replaced Pope, still battling tendinitis in her pitching elbow, in the fourth and shut down the Lady 'Cats in the fourth and fifth.
But in the top of the sixth, Valdosta rallied. Moore walked to open the inning. Courson then ripped into a pitch and sent it into the left-center field gap for a double, scoring Moore.
"I went to the mound and told Lindsey not to give Courson anything to hit," Dickey said. "So Lindsey threw one a foot outside, and she still hit it to the gap in left-center."
Courson went to third on a wild pitch, then Keisha Haynes was hit by a pitch and stole second. Valdosta had the tying run on third and go-ahead run on second with no outs. But then Radcliff, with her older sister Haley catching her, bore down and got two groundouts, holding the runners. Valdosta's Carly Davis hit a sinking line drive to center, but Lowndes center fielder Jessica Stracener ran the ball down for the third out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lowndes scored two insurance runs. Lindsey Radcliff helped herself with a two-out RBI double, scoring courtesy runner Kate Pennington from third. Pope later drew a bases-loaded walk to score Lowndes' final run. Radcliff retired VHS 1-2-3 in the seventh.
"Lindsey went out there and did everything we asked her to do," Dickey said. "She gave up just the one run in four innings, and held on to the lead for us. With Alden hurting, it's good we could turn to Lindsey."
Valdosta has been much-improved the last week. The Lady Wildcats defeated Coffee last week, and held their own Thursday against their usually-dominant crosstown rivals.
"We've been playing a lot better lately," Valdosta head coach Todd Clements said. "We're playing better defensively, and we're not making as many mistakes. I still didn't like losing, but the girls played hard and stayed in the game with Lowndes."
As usual, Courson was in the middle of Valdosta's offensive attack. She was 3-for-3 and drove in both Valdosta runs. She had three of Valdosta's five hits (Moore and Yoder had the other two).
"Courson's just a great player. She's almost at the Lauren Rowe and Jade Jarvis level," Dickey said, comparing her to Lowndes' two former All-State shortstops, now at Georgia and Ole Miss. "I think she's good enough to be a good Division I player."
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