Demopolis goes 2-0 on first day at regional in Troy

Abbey Latham slides in safely on a steal of second base in the Tigers’ 5-3 win over Sylacauga.

TROY, Ala. – Natalie Tatum owned the day Thursday with a pair of dominant outings in the circle and one timely hit at the plate to give make Demopolis 2-0 on day one of the South Central Regional in Troy.

“Natalie just hits spots. She did a good job spinning the ball and throwing it where she was asked to throw it. She has been working hard for us all year and to throw two games back-to-back shows amazing skill and endurance,” Demopolis coach Brittany Dunson said of her junior pitcher.

Demopolis 5, Sylacauga 3

Natalie Tatum struck out 19 batters while going 2-0 in Thursday’s action at the South Central Regional in Troy.

The Tigers opened the afternoon with a 5-3 victory over Sylacauga. Bryanna Browning dropped down a bunt single to open the game before moving to second on a ball in the dirt, stealing third and then scoring on an error to put the Aggies up 1-0.

Demopolis wasted little time responding. Courtney Smith reached on an error and advanced on Elly Brown’s sacrifice bunt. Sylacauga appeared intent on issuing an intentional walk to Latham before ball four caught just a little too much. Latham unceremoniously deposited the pitch beyond the outfield fence for a 2-1 Demopolis lead and her 19th homer of the season.

The Tigers added to the lead in the bottom of the third when Latham drew an intentional walk and advanced on a pair of bunts by Kendall Hannah and Tatum. Bria Brown stroked a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Latham for the 3-1 lead.

Latham struck again in the fifth when she drew an intentional walk and stole second before Hannah turned on a pitch and sent it to the fence in left center for the 4-1 lead.

Sylacauga narrowed the gap in the sixth when Brown singled, stole a base, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Madalyn Ingram. Henley Burton drew a walk and later scored on Sydney Conville’s single to slice the deficit to 5-3.

The Tigers reinserted Tatum in the pitcher’s circle after having allowed her to rest for a five batters. She fanned the first batter she saw to preserve the lead.

Demopolis gave itself some breathing room in the seventh when Taylor Smith executed a flawless bunt single and later scored on Elly Brown’s base hit to make it 5-3.

Tatum worked six and a third innings, striking out 13 in the contest while giving up just two hits and allowing one run.

Kendall Hannah drops down a bunt to advance a runner.

Demopolis 3, Marbury 1

Immediately following its initial effort, Demopolis found itself locked in a pitchers’ duel with Marbury and ace Layton Murphy. The Tigers scored all three of their runs with one swing of the bat and Tatum reinforced the lead by stranding nine Bulldog baserunners in a 3-1 victory.

Demopolis broke through in the third against Murphy as Elly Brown drew a hit-by-pitch and Latham stroked her second double of the game to put a pair of runners in scoring position with two out. Hannah coaxed a walk to load the bases for Tatum. The Demopolis pitcher dug herself out of an 0-2 hole and flicked a 2-2 offering just over the head of the Bulldog first baseman and into shallow right field. Brown and Latham scored for the 2-0 lead before the throw from the Marbury right fielder caromed away from the third baseman. Hannah sprung to her feet and rushed home, narrowly sliding her fingertips under the tag of the Bulldog backstop to make it 3-0.

“Later on in the game, we did start laying off the rise ball, being more patient, having disciplined at-bats,” Dunson said. “We did string something along and got lucky on also having an error and pushed across three runs.”

Bria Brown sends a fly ball to right against Sylacauga.

Marbury made its run in the top of the sixth when Jessie Easterling dropped down her second bunt single of the game and later scored on an error to narrow it to 3-1. Tatum retired six of the final seven batters she faced to end the game.

She scattered eight hits and allowed one unearned run while striking out six in the complete game win.

The win sets Demopolis up for a 10:30 a.m. rendezvous Friday against Moody. The winner of that game advances to the state tournament next week. The loser moves to a 4:30 p.m. date in the losers’ bracket in a must-win game to qualify for the state tournament.

“Staying loose is key. They get all tight and real antsy, then our game goes out the window,” Dunson said of her team’s approach to the tournament thus far. “If they stay loose and relaxed and just have fun out there, they’re on every time.”