“I relaxed a lot,” Houlton said. “Just get on top of them and pitch my pitches.”
Houlton also gave the Lady Dawgs the only run they’d need in the bottom of the first. With Hannah Cox at third, Houlton dropped a perfect bunt up the third base line, and Cox scored when Chassity Garvin couldn’t field the suicide squeeze.
Three batters later, Baleigh Drake made it 2-0 with a grounder back to pitcher Makayla Clark. Despite there being two outs, Clark tried to throw home instead of to first, and Wilson beat the throw.
The sequence highlighted a night in which Stuart made too many mental mistakes to hang with a Savanna team dreaming of a Class 2A state championship. An errant throw by Garvin in the bottom of the third led to Savanna’s third run of the game, and a series of errors led to three more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Tannah Heddleston, Savanna’s designated player and nine-hole hitter, led off the fourth with a single down the third base line, took second on a bunt single by Taylor Haynie, then raced home when Cox singled into center field. Stuart center fielder Cierra Chapman tried to throw Hailey Wilson, the runner who replaced Heddleston, out at the plate, but the ball got away from catcher Smith for one run.
The Lady Dawgs scored again when Smith’s throw got away from Clark covering home plate, and two more errors allowed Cox to get to third. The Lady Dawgs then went up 6-0 on an RBI single by Houlton.
“We threw it around way to much and gave them way too many runs,” Coach Chapman said. He added that to beat Savanna, the Lady Hornets “would’ve had to play flawless.”
Heddleston led off the bottom of the fifth with a single almost identical to her fourth-inning single. Savanna leadoff hitter Haynie then blasted one over the head of left fielder Kylie Jernigen all the way to the left field wall.