STERLING – Shelbi Pearson’s walk-off solo homer propelled the Sterling Lady Tigers to a 7-6 win over No. 2 ranked Ripley en route to the Southwest Shootout tournament championship last Saturday.
Pearson’s home run came in the bottom of the seventh. It was her second round tripper of the game. Pearson also hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the second as Sterling pulled to within a run of Ripley, 4-3.
The 41st Southwest Shootout was hosted by Sterling.
“We had a good week,” Sterling head coach Marty Curry said. “We beat Ripley twice and beat No. 9 Navajo. Our tournament is one of the toughest in the state. It was a total team effort.”
Sterling was forced to rally in the title game as Ripley scored four runs in the top of the first inning. After Pearson’s second inning blast, Sterling knotted the game at 4-4 with a lone run in the bottom of the third inning. Morgan Curry, who reached base on a single and advanced to third on a double by Ashlyn Clift, scored the tying run on a Ripley error.
Both teams tallied two runs in the fifth inning before Pearson’s decisive homer in the seventh.
Curry, Sterling’s starting pitcher, was credited with the win as she gave up two earned runs on eight hits and three walks. She also struck out one Ripley hitter.
Earlier in the tourney, Sterling defeated Ripley 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel, but lost the next matchup with the No. 2 team, 6-2.
Sterling’s 2-1 victory was highlighted by Emma Nunley’s home run and double that accounted for all of the team’s run. Nunley’s double in the bottom of the second inning scored Lacy Spence. In the bottom of the fifth, Nunley clobbered a homer over the left field fence giving Sterling a 2-0 lead. Ripley responded with a solo homer of its own in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead in half.
Ripley responded in the following tourney game with its 6-2 win. Ripley’s victory put a halt to Sterling’s 16-game win streak which started Aug. 16 with a 12-0 win over Fletcher.
In earlier tournament games, Sterling defeated Central High 12-0, downed Navajo 2-1 and outlasted Marlow 3-2 on a walk-off RBI single by Kaleigh Budd in the bottom of the seventh inning. The hit scored Pearson who was placed at second base to start the inning.
On Sept. 12, Sterling defeated Chattanooga 7-1 to record its second win in a row while improving its season record to 22-5. Shelby Spence had a big game with three hits in four at-bats while scoring three runs and notching one RBI. Two of Spence’s hits were a double and triple. Kenley Geiger also had two RBIs on a fifth inning single.
As a team, Sterling recorded six stolen bases, including three by Nunley.
Sterling was scheduled to play Rush Springs Thursday, but those results were not available at press time. The Lady Tigers also will compete in the Dale Festival in Shawnee on Friday before returning home to take on Lookeba Monday, Sept. 19.
Sterling will begin its playoff run by hosting a district tournament starting Thursday, Sept. 22.