By Chris Yow
LYNNVILLE — Houston County pitcher Haylie Brooks and Richland’s Brooklyn Reed dueled for more than two hours in the circle.
In the end, Brooks was just too much for the Lady Raiders, as the freshman hurler sat down 22 hitters on strikes to lead her Lady Irish to a 1-0 win in 10 innings on Monday.
District 10-A Pitcher of the Year Reed, was nearly as effective throughout the game, forcing 14 flyouts with her screwball.
“That thing works in on right-handers and rises, so it’s really difficult to hit,” Richland coach Annette Edwards said. “I could not be more proud of the way she pitched.”
The lone run of the game came in the 10th inning with the International Tie Breaker rule in effect. Houston County got a double from Emma Dunavant to move R’Shonte Kizer to third base. Allie Black then sent a fly ball to center field that scored Kizer, but Dunavant was caught at third base when Reed cut the ball and threw her out. Reed then served up a groundout to end the inning.
Richland came to the plate with a chance to extend the game, but Kizer made a diving catch on a bunt attempt from Gracie Adams and ITB runner Kirsten Garner couldn’t advance. Brooks recorded the final two outs on strikes to end the game.
While the Lady Raiders’ season ended, Edwards was proud of the effort her team put forth.
“There aren’t many teams we would play better than them, and we showed we can play with anybody,” she said. “It’s a tough way to end our season, but our seniors have been great leaders all season, and it has made an impact.”
Senior Rachel Rich, especially, helped to lay a foundation to continue the storied legacy of Richland softball according to Edwards.
“Rachel Rich is an incredible leader. Softball isn’t her thing, but you’d never know it by how much she has poured into these girls,” she said. “We have a team of young girls who will come back next season with better attitudes and a hunger that Rachel helped put in them.”
Richland will welcome a couple new district foes, Collinwood and Wayne County, while Mt. Pleasant moves out. Edwards said she is excited to see new blood, and noted her team finished 3-1 against those two teams collectively this season.
“We lose a lot leadership with our seniors, but we know we are capable of playing well against good teams and beating them,” she said. “Somebody else will step up next year — they always do.”