She’s just a sophomore, but Coahulla Creek’s Shelbe Dilbeck is maturing as a pitcher.
Dilbeck overcame a rough first inning Wednesday at North Murray, settling down to retire 15 batters in a row over the final five and lead the Lady Colts to a 4-3 comeback win.
“I started getting better with location toward the end,” Dilbeck said, “I was just throwing all kinds of stuff and they were hitting it. We started figuring out where they didn’t like it.”
Coahulla Creek coach Rhett Parrott was impressed with Dilbeck’s late-inning performance, which pushed the Lady Colts (9-11) to 4-3 in Region 5-3A. North Murray fell to 8-12 overall and 4-6 in the region.
“She settled down and the defense played great behind her,” Parrott said. “We did a really good job after that rough first inning and shut them down from there.”
Dilbeck, who scattered six hits, got some offensive help with a clutch, two-out double from freshman Nikki Hollis in the fourth.
With the Lady Colts down 3-2 in the top of the fourth with runners on first and third, Hollis laced one down the left field line that sailed just past the outstretched glove of Samantha Stafford of the Lady Mountaineers, bringing in two runs to put Coahulla Creek up for good.
It was a sharp turnaround in the game after the Lady Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead in the first.
After singles by sophomores Baylee Sutton and Megan Pittman to lead off the game, junior catcher Kara Deal hit a sharp grounder to short and reached on a throwing error that allowed Sutton to score for a 1-0 lead. Sarah Silvers then singled to drive in Pittman, followed by an RBI single from pitcher Hannah Hensley to make it 3-0 quickly.
But that was all Dilbeck would allow, and only two Lady Mountaineers reached base after that. Dilbeck gave up two hits over the final six innings, throwing a mix of off-speed pitches that kept the Lady Mountaineers’ bats silent.
The poised sophomore knew the lead wasn’t insurmountable.
“I was just thinking we could come back ... it’s just the first inning,” Dilbeck said. “We can come out there and hit, do what we’ve been working on ... what we know how to do.”
Before Coahulla’s big fourth, the Lady Mountaineers’ Hannah Hensley made quick work of the first three innings, striking out one while not allowing a hit.
The next inning began with the Lady Colts’ Haley Reece leading off with a single, and reaching second on a sacrifice bunt from Dilbeck. Then, Emily Banks’ RBI single scored Reece to make it 3-1. Allie Thompson followed with a single, and freshman Baylee Adkins reached on an error to score Banks and set the table for Hollis.
“That was key,” Parrott said of Hollis’ two-out double. “That was big time for a freshman to come into that situation and get that big hit at an important time in the game for us.”
Lady Mountaineers coach Daphne Winkler said that even one bad inning can be costly.
“When they started facing (Hensley) the second time around is when they started hitting her,” Winkler said. “We thought we’d try something different after the fourth and brought in Kara (Deal).”
The junior came on in the fifth in relief, only allowing a walk while striking out two through the final three innings.
“They had three hits there in the fourth, then we had a missed ball at first,” Winkler said. “You can’t take anything away from that, those were three solid hits. We were hitting it hard, but there again it was just going right at them.”
• Northwest Whitfield 8, LaFayette 0: The Lady Bruins cruised at home, needing just six innings to pick up their 20th victory of 2012 and remain undefeated in sub-region play seven games into the 7B-4A schedule.
Hannah Godfrey went 4-for-4 with a double to lead the way at the plate for Northwest (20-2), the top-ranked team in the Ga.PrepCoun-try.com Class 4A coaches poll, while Emily Boyd struck out 10 in the complete-game effort. She allowed a walk and a hit.
Also for the Lady Bruins, Bayli Cruse and Ashley Conner each went 2-for-4 with a double, while Colbie Thomas was 2-for-4 with a double. Conner drove in two runs, as did Mykeah Johnson, who collected her RBIs on sacrifice flies. Cruse, Godfrey and Thomas each drove in one run.
A four-run fourth was the most productive inning for Northwest, which also scored a pair of runs in the third and one each in the first and sixth. Lady Bruins coach Jason Brooker was glad to see the offense pick up a bit after scoring a total of six runs during the past three games.
“We’d been kind of going through the motions,” Brooker said. “I’ve been telling them that we need a big hit, and it doesn’t matter what inning it is. We need a big hit with runners on. We got a couple tonight.”