COLUMBUS, GA-- The dominant pitching of Ariel Edenfield shut down previously unbeaten Toccoa as the Dudley Little League softball all-stars won 3-0 to secure the number one seed in the state tournament in Columbus.
After Edenfield retired the Toccoa hitters in the top of the first inning, Hailey Sapp led off the game for Dudley with a single to centerfield. Edenfield then laid down a bunt and the Toccoa pitcher tried to force Sapp at second base. Sapp beat the throw and advanced to third base with some heads up base running after seeing no player covering the corner bag. Karson Smith scored Sapp with a groundout to second base to give Dudley a 1-0 lead after one inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Taylor Cobb delivered a single to centerfield. Sapp then drove a 2-2 pitch to left centerfield. Cobb, who was running on the pitch, scored easily to increase Dudley's lead to 2-0.
"After two innings, we had to make a decision on whether or not to leave Edenfield in the game", said manager Lance Smith. "We knew that if she went back to the mound in the third inning, she would not be able to pitch in the semifinal round. But with the way she was pitching, we figured we had to leave her on the mound to go ahead and get the number one seed."
Dudley threatened again in the third inning as Smith led off with a hard single to centerfield. A couple of well hit balls by Kendall Morton and Kristen Zacher were caught by the Toccoa defense, and the inning ended with no runs added to the lead.
Sapp continued her perfect night at the plate in the fifth inning with a leadoff single. After a walk by Smith, Sapp's base running forced a miscue by the Toccoa defense, and she scored to advance the Dudley lead to 3-0.
Edenfield's dominant pitching performance continued through all six innings with Edenfield giving up only one solid double and one bloop single. She struck out eight Toccoa hitters and walked none.
"Ariel's pitching was incredible. She is as good as you will see at her age when she is on like she was tonight. And she has made a habit of being great lately,' said Smith. "I also cannot say enough about Hailey Sapp and her hitting performance in the leadoff spot tonight. She went 3-for-3 at the plate and made things happen with her exceptional base running.'
Dudley plays West Point in the single elimination semifinal round on Wednesday at 7:30. Toccoa and Northern Columbus will play in the other semifinal game.