The younger Rosser came through in dramatic fashion against Class 4A’s top-ranked team, the Alexandria Lady Cubs. With the Lady Warriors down a pair of runs, she crushed a three-run walk-off homer to left center in No. 3 Cherokee County’s 7-6 victory.
“I hadn’t done well all game, and I felt like I had to step it up,” Darbie Rosser said. “I think I got excited (in the other at-bats), and I was over-swinging, but this is the last game for the seniors to play at home (in the regular season). Mal, being my sister, I felt like I had to step it up. It was a great win.”
Darbie Rosser may not have known just how great the win was. It forged a tie atop the Area 12 standings between the Lady Warriors (26-8, 5-1) and Alexandria (29-12-1, 4-1). The Lady Cubs defeated Cherokee County 6-5 back on March 23.
Cherokee County is through with area play, but Alexandria still has a home game next Monday against Jacksonville. If the two teams finished tied atop the standings, tiebreakers will come into play to determine which team hosts the upcoming Area 12 tournament. If Alexandria loses, the Lady Warriors earn the right to host.
“They’ve always been a rival since they’ve been in the same area with us,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. “Every time we play them, it seems like it’s a one or two run game. Anybody can win each time we play. I’m just glad we ended our home season with a win like that against a good team like them.”
As Darbie Rosser said, she struggled early in the game on Tuesday by going 0 for 3 until her home run in the bottom of the seventh. Barnes said he was proud of the way Darbie Rosser adjusted, especially in such a crucial situation.
“As you go throughout the game, you’ve got to make adjustments,” Barnes said. “She popped up twice, which meant they were throwing her high and she was getting under it. I told her, ‘They’ve been throwing you a rise ball all game.’ I think that’s what she got there, and she hit it. That last at-bat, she made an adjustment with that high pitch and drove it out.”
While Darbie Rosser saved her best for last, the same could be said for Malorie Rosser. After a bit of a rocky start, the elder Rosser earned the win for Cherokee County. She went the distance, giving up six runs (four earned) on nine hits with six walks and four strikeouts.
The Lady Cubs batted around in the top of the fifth and took advantage of four Cherokee County errors, which led to five runs and a 6-2 lead.
However, Malorie Rosser dug in and finished with two scoreless innings.
“That was kind of an ugly win, but Mal probably pitched her best game of the year,” Barnes said. “She got a lot of ground balls, but we didn’t make a lot of plays behind her. That’s how they got a lot of their runs. A lot of teams would put and lay down and be mad after making errors like that, but it shows a lot of character about these girls. They can come back and fight after playing such a bad defensive game.”
Cherokee County scored a run in the first on a two-out single to center by Cayla Machleit. Machleit’s single scored Kaitlyn Griffith, who reached base earlier on a walk.
Alexandria tied the game at 1 in the top of the fourth on a RBI-double by Hali Presley.
The Lady Warriors regained the lead at 2-1 in the bottom half of the fourth on an infield single by catcher Kristen Abney that scored senior left fielder Amy Atkins. Atkins reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning.
After the fifth inning debacle that led to five Lady Cub runs and a 6-2 deficit, the Lady Warriors mounted their comeback in their last at-bat.
Griffith doubled to left to lead off against Alexandria pitcher Lindsey Holtbrooks. Candace Blanchard followed with a single down the left field line to score Griffith, making it 6-3. Machleit struck out for the for the first out of the inning, bringing Lauren Millsaps to the plate.
Millsaps singled to left, then Atkins doubled to center to score Blanchard, creeping the Lady Warriors closer at 6-4. After Deidra Davis popped to center for the second out of the inning, the game was left in Darbie Rosser’s hands, and the freshman delivered.
Blanchard led Cherokee County at the plate by going 3 for 4 with a run and a RBI. Atkins was 2 for 4 with a pair of runs and a RBI. Millsaps and Davis were 1 for 3. Abney, Machleit and Darbie Rosser were all 1 for 4.
Presley led Alexandria’s offense by going 2 for 3 with a double. Halee Henry was 2 for 3.
Holtbrooks suffered the loss for the Lady Cubs. She went the distance, giving up all seven Lady Warrior runs on 11 hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.