Prairie View 6, Riverfield 5
Morgan Grayson's RBI double highlighted a three-run second inning and center fielder Amery Clark saved two runs with a spectacular catch as Prairie View edged Riverfield 4-3 Saturday night in the championship game of the season-opening Riverfield Tournament.
Prairie View (4-0) also won an intense semifinal decision over the Lady Raiders — their chief rival and defending MAIS District 3-2A champion — pulling out a 5-1 victory under the international tiebreaker rule. Earlier Saturday, the Lady Spartans bested Glenbrook 4-1. In Friday's first-round action, Prairie View outlasted University Academy 6-5 in a contest that went to the ITB.
Riverfield grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the tournament finale.
Cherie Tanner, the Lady Raiders' lefty swinging leadoff batter, walked on a 10-pitch at bat to start the home half of the first. JoAnna Franklin followed with a base hit to left and Erin Branch executed a sacrifice bunt, leaving runners at second and third with one out.
Cleanup batter Natalie Foster then poled an opposite-field double to the left-center gap, plating both runners.
It could have been a worse start for the Lady Spartans.
Foster moved to third on a wild pitch and Madison Parker drew a two-out walk and took second base uncontested.
Next up, Morgan Lewis hit a drive into the right-center gap, but Clark ranged to her left and made the catch at her ankles. Thanks to Clark's defensive gem, the Lady Spartans went into the second trailing 2-0 rather than 4-0.
Prairie View answered with three in its second turn at bat.
Alyssa Montgomery was safe at first on a leadoff throwing error and circled the bases when the throw to second base on Haley Yarbrough's fielder's choice grounder skidded into right field. Yarbrough raced all the way to third.
Jayla Stewart's RBI single to left plated Tabor Moyers, Yarbrough's courtesy runner, with the tying run.
With two outs and the bases empty, Sheridan May walked and crossed home with the go-ahead run when Grayson unloaded a double to deep left.
Harper worked a 1-2-3 second as Grayson made a nice play to track down a popup to her left, sandwiched between a pair off strikeouts.
Prairie View upped its lead to 4-2 in the third when Montgomery jabbed a leadoff single to left, swiped second base, moved to third on Yarbrough's groundout and continued home on a wayward throw.
Riverfield refused to go down without a tussle.
Franklin led off the bottom of the third with a base hit to right and Branch was awarded first base after taking a pitch off the foot.
After an infield fly, Caroline Cater sacrificed the runners over, placing the tying run at second base.
With no time left on the clock (all tournament games were played under a 65-minute time limit), Parker, the Lady Raiders' 12-year-old shortstop, and Harper (3-0), the Lady Spartans' senior pitcher, engaged in a monumental battle.
Thirteen pitches later, Prairie View shortstop Bailey Ryder camped under a high pop fly for the final out.
Prairie View opens a three-game homestand with a 5 p.m. varsity double header against Briarfield on Friday. The Lady Spartans also play Canton (Miss.) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in a JV-varsity twinbill, before entertaining Franklin Academy on Tuesday at 6 p.m.