A few surprising performances are often necessary for a team trying to put together a deep tournament run out of the losers' bracket. Eric Ackerman belives he got the first of many such performances out of his Beaufort County team Monday night.
Seldom-used pitcher Journeigh Doray came on in relief of starter Michaux Gee and fired 4-1/3 shutout innings, keeping her team's pitching staff fresh for another day with a 2-0 elimination game victory over West Monroe National (La.) at the Dixie Ponytails World Series in Bluffton.
"You don't want to look ahead, because you've got to win this game, but to win it (all) we've got to win four games," Ackerman said afterward. "Between Alexis (Ortiz) and Michaux, our top two pitchers, they have I think 13 innings left between them. So we've got to start conserving them.
"Once Journeigh got hot we decided to keep her in and she did great for us."
Dixie rules prohibit pitchers from playing in consecutive games if they throw more than two innings in the first game. But Ackerman was playing simply to see Tuesday night and entrusted Doray to keep Louisiana's bats in check in order to get them there.
She responded by allowing just one hit while also pitching Beaufort County out of a couple jams. Doray stranded a pair of baserunners in the first after Gee walked two of the only three hitters she faced, then left another pair of runners aboard an inning later with a strikeout and popup.
"Journeigh Doray did fabulous," Ackerman said. "We put her in the second inning and she was throwing strikes. In the third inning she continued to just to peck away, peck away throw strikes. They'd make contact, we'd make plays."
Doray got the only run support she would need in the fourth when Ortiz and Emily Crosby reached on an error and single, respectively, before coming around to score on a wild pitch and an Alisa Depew groundout.
Doray handled the rest. The girl accustomed to playing mostly shortstop and catcher for her travel team allowed just one hit over the next two frames before giving way to Ortiz, who closed out the win with a perfect sixth inning.
Ackerman said Doray would have pitched the final frame had his offense plated a few more runs. The coach has been trying to reign in his two top pitchers' innings counts, as each player is allotted just 13 frames in the circle for the tournament.
"She did great," Ackerman said. "She's only been pitching for a short while. The video helps, because her pitching coach would call my wife and tell me to give her some pointers on what she was doing if she lost it a little bit."
Beaufort County will look to stay alive Tuesday when it faces an undetermined opponent at 6 p.m., with the winner moving on to Wednesday's championship game. And Ackerman is counting on another repeat performance like Doray's to get them there.
"That's very encouraging," he said. "We had three pitchers that I warmed up who didn't touch the ball. They all looked fairly good in warmups. ... One of them is going to have to step up the next game."