In many ways, Sulphur’s 9-1 defeat of Marietta was a microcosm of what has defined the squad under first-year coach Heath Gilbert.
There was little flash. The Bulldogs had just two extra-base hits, both doubles, and only one led to a run. Sulphur didn’t overwhelm the Indians with strength, speed or power.
Instead, it simply built up a lead, played opportunistic and after Gilbert’s daughter, Hali, singled to bring home the team’s final run, the Bulldogs had earned the first Lake Country Conference title in program history.
“We’re just a very blue-collar team,” Gilbert said. “It was a big night for everybody here.”
Sierra McCurry, the team’s starting pitcher and one of two seniors for the Bulldogs, kept up to form with a solid day in the circle, pitching five innings of three-hit ball, with the lone run against her coming in the first inning.
For McCurry, the LCC crown is a testament to what the team, together, has been able to accomplish in Gilbert’s return to Sulphur.
“It’s amazing,” McCurry said. “We’ve improved so much over the year ... I couldn’t ask for a better team.
“They can make plays when it needs to be done and they can hit when they need to hit.”
Fellow senior, left fielder Katie Jones, agreed with McCurry.
“All through my years here, we’ve never been so competitive and committed,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to still fix some of our weaknesses before district, but this is amazing.”
Sulphur’s execution was nearly flawless in the contest, as the Bulldogs scored runs in three of the five innings played. The team found ways to reach base via hit batsmen, walks, defensive errors and good old-fashioned hits.
The prime example came in the bottom of the second inning. Trailing 1-0, Sulphur’s Reilly Williams reached base on a walk. She promptly stole second base before Jadyn Ramer hit a laser down the third-base line that slipped by Marietta’s Shawna Dewey and allowed Williams to score. Darian Cravatt also walked for the Bulldogs, allowing McCurry to follow with an infield single that loaded the bases.
Two batters later, another hard ground ball from Harlee Griffis scored two more Sulphur runners and set up Haley White for a sacrifice fly.
By the time the inning was over, Sulphur had a 4-1 lead, but the game seemed out of reach already.
Raymer would finish the game with two doubles, while Hali Gilbert also added two hits.
Page 2 of 2 - And for Sulphur, the real season begins now.
“Our goal is a state championship,” McCurry said. “I think the girls all know that, and will stay focused on our next goal and what we want to accomplish.”