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Itasca stops Chico again

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012

COMING UP SHORT - Chico shortstop Molli Umphress stops a ball during the the Lady Dragons' 8-2 loss to Itasca Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The lightning around Byron Nelson High School Friday knocked Chico and Itasca off the field for an hour-and-a-half.

After the delay, it was the Lady Wampus Cats’ bats that struck down the Lady Dragons in the area round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

Itasca used seven hits, including three from leadoff hitter and pitcher Chelsae Faries, to beat Chico 8-2 in the Class A area game.

Faries, who had singled and doubled in previous at-bats, put the game away with a two-run inside-the-park-home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth.

“We knew coming in that they were a tough team and tough-hitting team,” said Chico pitcher Malori Moss. “I tried to keep them contained, but they got a hold of some balls.

“The top of their lineup had to do it all. What I’d throw up there in the zone, they’d take to the outfield.”

The loss ended the Lady Dragons’ season at 14-11. It was the final game for five Chico seniors – Hannah Avants, Molli Umphress, Ann Turlington, Cameron Bowyer and Moss.

“We went to the playoffs three years, and beating Lindsay this year was a big accomplishment,” Avants said.

Chico coach Michael Qualls also coached his final game. He resigned earlier this spring and accepted a teaching job at Bellevue.

“I’m proud of the seniors,” Qualls said. “They are irreplaceable. They have a bright future ahead of them.”

Moss and Chico kept the Itasca lineup scoreless in the first two innings. In the bottom of the third Itasca loaded the bases with one out. Kaleigh Lightsey broke the scoreless tie with a two-run double to center field.

Itasca made it 3-0 on Lulu Rodriquez’ sacrifice fly.

Chico got out of the inning, catching Lightsey trying to steal home on a throw back to Moss.

Right after the out to end the third, the game was halted because of lightning in the vicinity. The teams didn’t return to the field until nearly 9:30.

After the delay, Moss reached base on an error and apparently got herself into scoring position by stealing second base. But the umpire at second, who originally ruled her safe, conferred with the first-base umpire and reversed the call for the second out.

“That was a big play of the game and a bad call,” Qualls said.

Faries walked Avants, but struck out Turlington to get out of the inning. She struck out eight and walked one while allowing five hits and two runs in seven innings of work.

Itasca added a run in the bottom of the fourth and two in the fifth with the help of two Chico errors to take a 6-0 lead.

Chico trimmed two runs off the deficit with three of five hits in the sixth inning. Charlye Biggerstaff singled and scored on a passed ball. Umphress came home on Avants’ infield single.

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