HOMER – Commerce’s offense finally came alive in the fifth inning Wednesday night at Banks County.
After scoring just one run the previous nine innings, the Tiger offense exploded with four runs via back-to-back home runs by Carson Hobbs and Hailey Harpis. The Tigers led 5-1 after the big inning, and shut down Banks County’s attempts of a rally in the sixth and seventh innings to win 5-3.
Despite the marquee win over a traditional softball powerhouse, head coach Melissa Mullis still believes the team is capable of better performances.
“I think there were some things that we’re not doing right that we have to change,” she said. “I think we’re a lot better than what we showed tonight. We can’t afford walks and sometimes we’re not hitting our spots.
“Carson did a great job of taking her frustration out and hitting the ball really well, and Hailey Harpis as well came in there and made some adjustments. It was mainly [in their head].”
Carson Hobbs pitched the first four innings of the game, striking out three batters and allowing just two hits, but she also hit two batters. The last hit-by-pitch put a runner in scoring position and allowed the Leopards to score a game-tying run in the bottom of the third inning.
The Tigers scored the first run of the game in the top of the second inning when Kendall Peters’s two-out single brought Grace Hobbs across home plate. Banks County’s run in the third inning made the score 1-1.
Alexis Darnell’s one-out double sparks Commerce’s big fifth inning. Anna Taylor reached first base when she was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced to scoring position on Paige Vickery’s sacrifice bunt. Darnell scored when Banks County attempted a pick-off at second base. Hobbs launched the next pitch beyond the right-field fence to extend the Tiger lead to 4-1. Harpis belted hers to left field to make it a 5-1 advantage.
Mistakes by the Commerce defense cost it a run in the sixth inning. A one-out error in the field put one Leopard runner on base. A two-out single brought the runner to third base and a wild pitch by Vickery allowed the run to score. Two strikeouts helped Vickery get out of the inning with minimal damage, Commerce still led 5-2.
Vickery allowed a leadoff walk in the seventh inning, but great fielding by Hobbs at first base and shortstop Cylee Whitfield brought the game to its final out with a runner on third base.
That’s when the game nearly off the rails. Vickery walked the next two batters on balls and hit the third batter to let one run cross home plate. After an infield meeting to calm her down, Vickery struck out the next batter to end the game with Commerce ahead 5-3.
Commerce plays its first home game against hart County on Monday, August 16. The Tigers begin the Region 8-A Public schedule Tuesday, August 17 at home against Washington-Wilkes.