Hornets Slide Into Three-Peat Sectional Title Against Bulldogs

The Rossville Hornets smile after securing their “three-peat” Sectional win.
– Photos by Patty Keaton Parks

The Rossville Hornets secured their third Sectional Championship title on Wednesday night as they defeated the Clinton Central Bulldogs in a close game filled with defensive plays with a score of 3 to 2.

The Bulldogs led off the top of the first inning with a single that found the sweet spot in left field, but a pop-up bunt resulted in a double play as the Bulldogs gained two outs before a strikeout looking led to the turnover of the inning.

The Hornets were instantly stopped in their tracks as a foul ball to left field resulted in the first out for Rossville. A groundball to short stop secured the second out, but a following “bobble” at short stop resulted in the Hornets placing a runner on first. A fly ball to the outfield ended the inning as the teams kept the score at 0 to 0.

in the top of the second, a dropped third strike threatened to start a rally for the Bulldogs, but the Hornets recovered and secured the out before a runner could be placed on the bases. Two swinging strikeouts ended the top of the second inning with the Hornets only allowing six batters to approach the plate for the Bulldogs.

A strikeout looking kicked off the bottom of the second inning, but a following double to the fence increased the intensity of the game almost immediately. A line drive fell into the glove of third base, garnering two outs for the Hornets, before a pop fly to centerfield ended the inning with a score of 0 to 0 heading into the top of the third with only eight Hornets approaching the plate in two innings.

A grounder to short stop stopped the Bulldogs in their tracks with the first out of the inning, and a strikeout threatened to end the Bulldogs’ time at the plate early. A strikeout swinging turned the field over as the Hornets kept their streak of only allowing three Bulldogs to swing every inning.

The Hornets began with a foul ball caught behind the plate, securing their first out of the inning, and a pop fly to right field placed the Hornets at a 2-out disadvantage. A slow grounder near the mound resulted in the third out of the inning, turning the offense over to the Bulldogs with a score of 0 to 0 heading into the fourth inning where a controversial call would spark conversations amongst fans in the stands.

Coach Don Helmick argues the “out” call for Landree Whiteman at home.

The Bulldogs kicked off the top of the fourth inning with a short pop fly that hit the dirt for a single, and a grounder to second base moved the Bulldogs to second in scoring position. A hit past first base that narrowly fell foul would send Bulldog Landree Whiteman home as she sprinted to beat the throw. As she dove into the plate, she was tagged in a close call that ultimately resulted in her being called “out.”

As Coach Don Helmick approached the plate to argue the play, the call stood, resulting in the second out for the Bulldogs amongst screaming fans that demanded a reassessment of the play that could have steered the game in a completely different direction due to the tight ending score.

The Bulldogs brushed off the out as Kortney Surber flexed her outstanding base-running skills by stealing second then third on a dropped ball by the Hornets. However, Surber’s efforts would prove futile as an attempted squeeze bunt resulted in the third out at first.

The Hornets would come into the bottom of the fourth inning swinging with a single into the gap of right-centerfield, but a pop-up to the pitcher’s mound racked up the first out for the Hornets. A single to centerfield placed two Hornets on base, but a force out at third threatened to end the Hornets’ rally early. A snag by Whiteman at the mound would turn over the inning back to the Bulldogs as they attempted to put the first run on the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs started the top of the fifth inning with two swinging strikeouts and a strikeout looking, turning the field back over to the Hornets.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Hornets would rally to put the first point on the board, but a pop fly to left field would start the Hornets off with an out. A walk would put the Hornets on base and being hit by a pitch placed Hornets on first and second. A single to right field loaded the bases for the Hornets, and a passed ball led to the Hornets scoring their first run with runners on second and third with only one out.

A hit to short stop loaded the bases, but a second controversial call sparked shouts from the Bulldog stands. As two Hornets gathered on second base due to third base holding the Hornets from scoring, the Bulldogs tagged one of the runners. According to the fans, the presence of both Hornets on base should have resulted with one runner being called “out,” but both runners were called “safe,” leaving the bases loaded.

The call seemed not to matter as a caught line drive at short stop and a pop fly caught at short stop ended the inning.

Bulldogs swing for the fences; Avery Layton racks up 15 strikeouts.

The Bulldogs would bounce back from their no-scoring innings as they headed into the top of the sixth with bats blazing despite a strikeout looking and a strikeout swinging starting the inning with two outs. Whiteman would once again start a rally with a slow-rolling grounder to short stop that she easily outran, and a hit just past the dirt moved the Bulldogs to second and first. Surber would slam the ball over first base, barely keeping it fair as the Bulldogs rounded the bases, scoring two runs and securing a triple. A strikeout swinging would end the top of the sixth inning with a score of 2 to 1 with the Bulldogs in the lead.

The Bulldogs defense would threaten to keep the Hornets down in the bottom of the sixth as the Hornets started with a pop fly to second before a diving grounder to the short stop resulted in a single. A pop fly just short of second base racked up the second out for the Hornets, and a groundball to short stop would end the inning as the Bulldogs took to the plate leading with a score of 2 to 1 for the final inning.

The Bulldogs ended the inning with three swinging strikeouts, turning the field over to the Hornets as they took their last stand to score two runs to gain victory.

The Hornets would begin with a groundball to short stop that secured the first out, but Gracie McDonald would begin a rally for the Hornets with a push over third base that barely landed inside the lines, scoring a double and placing her in scoring position to tie the game. With the tying run on second, Addi Gorbett would place the ball in the gap in right field for a sliding double that would score McDonald and tie the ballgame. Following a pop fly to third base to rack up two outs, the Bulldogs intentially walked Megan McDonald to place a force out at every base as the winning run was on second. With a hit placed perfectly in the gap between left field and centerfield, Allie Elliott would bring Gorbett home to win the game and secure the third Sectional Championship title in a row for the Hornets.

Hornets Sectional Stats:

Allie Elliott: 2-4, walk-off RBI

Addi Gorbett: 3-4, RBI

Gracie McDonald: 2-4

Megan McDonald: 1-3

Autumn Paschal: 1-3

Avery Layton (Pitching): 7 innings, 15 strikeouts

Photos by Patty Parks can be seen in links below:

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Hornets celebrate their victory in the Sectional Championship.