Scotland County Ponytails find groove

By: By Amber Hatten-Staley - Sports editor
Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Summer Newton throws a pitch during the first inning of Scotland County’s game against Sampson County. Newton and her teammates are competing in the 12u Dixie Ponytails bracket of the Dixie Softball State Tournament, which kicked off Saturday.
Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Marissa Smith looks towards the dugout for a signal from Scotland County Ponytails head coach Contonio Wilson during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament.
Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Scotland County Ponytails first baseman Leila Oxendine catches the ball and gets the out against a runner from Dunn on Saturday.
Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Nateya Scott looks towards the dugout during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament. Scotland County Ponytails will play tonight at 6 p.m. at the James L. Morgan Complex against the winner of Dunn vs. Hope Mills.

LAURINBURG — The Dixie State Softball Championships turned the James L. Morgan Complex and Optimist Park into tent cities over the weekend as thousands of softball players, coaches, volunteers and their families converged on the two parks to begin the five-day tournament.

In an attempt to avoid the copious amounts of sunshine and 90-degree heat, teams and their supporters set up tents in the stands and along the fence line to watch the games in the shade.

Scotland County had three teams — Dixie Darlings (8U), Dixie Ponytails (12U) and Dixie Belles (15U) — competing for a ticket to the Dixie Softball World Series in Louisiana later this month.

The Ponytails started the tournament with a 10-3 loss to Dunn, but have bounced back in the loser’s bracket by winning their next two games. Scotland County and five other teams competed in the traditional Dixie Ponytail bracket, which abides by the rules of Parks and Recreation softball; whereas, the Ponytail x-play bracket followed rules similar to high school softball.

On Sunday, the Ponytails shut out Topsail, 4-0, to advance to Monday and keep their World Series hopes alive. Scotland then faced Sampson County, who faced Hope Mills in the opening round and lost 15-5.

In their third game, Scotland continued to improve, picking up a 21-3 victory. The Ponytails put a four-spot up in the first inning to take a 4-0 lead. In the bottom of the first, Scotland gave up one run but continued to hit the ball on offense. Riley Phillips opened the top of the second inning with a walk. Back-to-back walks to Daliyah Ratliffe and Nateya Scott loaded the bases for Lindsey Locklear, who busted a double to left field — emptying the bases and giving Scotland a 7-1 lead. A single to right by Summer Newton brought Locklear in. An infield ground ball by Leila Oxendine put runners in scoring position for Scotland. Jasmine Wilson hit a single to center that brought Oxendine across the plate to increase Scotland’s lead to eight, 9-1.

Scotland gave back a pair runs in the bottom of the second before shutting out Sampson County the rest of the game. The Ponytails found their groove in the top of the fourth scoring 11 runs to take a 21-3 lead.

Scotland County’s own 12U team will take the field on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the winner of Hope Mills vs. Dunn.

The Darlings opened tournament play against Cherryville, losing 21-3 to drop down into the loser’s bracket, since the tournament is double-elimination. Scotland County returned on Sunday for a second chance and faced Central Columbus, which lost its opening game 4-9, in the loser’s bracket and lost 13-2 to end their tournament run.

The Belles faced a similar fate falling in the first round to Anson County, 35-2 in five innings. Scotland then faced Hope Mills, which lost its opening game 5-15 against Richlands. It was a much closer game on Sunday, but Scotland’s 15u team also saw its tournament run cut short losing to Hope Mills, 4-7.

Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]

Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Summer Newton throws a pitch during the first inning of Scotland County’s game against Sampson County. Newton and her teammates are competing in the 12u Dixie Ponytails bracket of the Dixie Softball State Tournament, which kicked off Saturday.
https://www.laurinburgexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_IMG_4434.jpgAmber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Summer Newton throws a pitch during the first inning of Scotland County’s game against Sampson County. Newton and her teammates are competing in the 12u Dixie Ponytails bracket of the Dixie Softball State Tournament, which kicked off Saturday.

Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Marissa Smith looks towards the dugout for a signal from Scotland County Ponytails head coach Contonio Wilson during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament.
https://www.laurinburgexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_IMG_4301.jpgAmber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Marissa Smith looks towards the dugout for a signal from Scotland County Ponytails head coach Contonio Wilson during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament.

Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Scotland County Ponytails first baseman Leila Oxendine catches the ball and gets the out against a runner from Dunn on Saturday.
https://www.laurinburgexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_IMG_4266.jpgAmber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Scotland County Ponytails first baseman Leila Oxendine catches the ball and gets the out against a runner from Dunn on Saturday.

Amber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Nateya Scott looks towards the dugout during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament. Scotland County Ponytails will play tonight at 6 p.m. at the James L. Morgan Complex against the winner of Dunn vs. Hope Mills.
https://www.laurinburgexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_IMG_4271.jpgAmber Hatten-Staley | Laurinburg Exchange Nateya Scott looks towards the dugout during Saturday’s opening round of the Dixie State Softball Tournament. Scotland County Ponytails will play tonight at 6 p.m. at the James L. Morgan Complex against the winner of Dunn vs. Hope Mills.
Advance to fourth round of Dixie State Tournament

By Amber Hatten-Staley

Sports editor