Lady Bobcats earn area win

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
PHIL CAMPBELL – Melissa Russell was a good pitcher for Phil Campbell last season. This year, "the grunt" has helped her reach a whole new level.
Russell pitched a five-inning no-hitter on Tuesday as the Lady Bobcats improved to 2-1 in Class 2A, Area 16 play with an 11-0 victory over Belgreen.
The hard-throwing righthander struck out 13 batters and walked only two, punctuating each of her deliveries with an emphatic grunt that would make any professional women's tennis player proud.
"She just started doing that this year," Phil Campbell coach Greg Winstead said. "I guess she thinks it makes her throw harder. She does it on fastballs and changeups, so the batter doesn't know what's coming."
It sure seemed to be working on Tuesday. Russell fanned the first six batters she faced and had nine strikeouts through three innings.
"She got off to a great start," Winstead said. "She got into a rhythm early and was throwing a lot of strikes. She did a good job of throwing her different pitches. Her rising fastball was working really well for her."
Sarah Billingham took the loss for Belgreen despite striking out eight batters in four innings. She held Phil Campbell (7-2 overall) to just six hits, but the Lady Bobcats used aggressive baserunning to jumpstart their offense.
"We're in a little bit of a hitting slump right now," Winstead said. "In high school softball, you face a lot of different pitchers who throw a lot of different speeds. You have to adjust on a day-to-day basis, and right now we're not making those adjustments."
Alis Hutcheson led Phil Campbell at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Alexis Maggerise had three RBIs, including a two-run triple in the bottom of the fourth that highlighted a six-run inning.
"Alexis hit the ball hard today," Winstead said. "Even when she made an out, she hit a line drive right at the shortstop."
Tanna Benford, Carrie Fell, Chasity Morgan and Shelly Cooper each scored two runs, and Benford and Fell each went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Morgan also drove in a run.
Maggerise and Hannah Nix each had RBI groundouts in the bottom of the third as Phil Campbell scored three runs to open up a 5-0 lead.
Benford and Fell had back-to-back run-scoring singles in the fourth, and Maggerise made it 10-0 with a two-run triple to right-center field.
Belgreen put two runners on in the top of the third, but Russell retired Mary Billingham on a soft liner to second to end the threat.
Russell walked the first two batters leading off the fifth, but she struck out the next three hitters to finish with a flourish.
Phil Campbell was scheduled to host Red Bay on Thursday and will play at Colbert Heights on Monday in another area game.

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