The Columbus County Debs did it the hard way and got some revenge in the process. Columbus County scored three runs in the ninth inning to defeat Tennessee 5-2 and claim the 2017 Dixie Debs World Series title Wednesday night. Tennessee handed the North Carolina representative its only tournament loss, 10-6 Tuesday night.
Earlier Wednesday, Columbus County defeated defending Debs World Series champ, Alexandria, LA (the host team) 6-5 to advance to the title game with Tennessee. This was the second 6-5 victory for Columbus County over Alexandria in the tournament. Alexandria’s 2016 title came at the expense of the Columbus County Debs as Alexandria won consecutive games in the finals over a previously unbeaten Columbus County squad.
Columbus County 6 Alexandria, LA 5
Columbus County defeated the host team by the same score as earlier in the tournament. This time it didn’t take extra innings, but it was a back and forth affair between Columbus and the defending champions.
Alexandria took the lead with a solo homerun in the second inning. Columbus County responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the second. Alex Chestnutt and Lindsey Jones singled. Amanda Watts moved them up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Kelsey Carroll doubled, scoring Chestnutt and Jones. Kailey Paul followed with a double to score Carroll for a 3-1 lead.
The third inning was about the long ball. An Alexandria two-run homer tied the score at three. Hailey Sarvis responded with a two-run shot of her own after Callie Sumner singled to reestablish a two run lead at 5-3. Alexandria scored single runs in the fourth and sixth to tie the score.
Chestnutt singled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Jones walked. A passed ball moved the runners to third and second. Alexis Suggs’ infield pop up was misplayed allowing Chestnutt to score what proved to be the eventual winning run. Columbus County cut down the potential tying run in a run down between third and home in the top of the seventh.
Alexis Suggs pitched the first four innings for Columbus County. Kailey Paul occupied the circle for the final three. Neither recorded a strikeout, but limited Alexandria to just six hits and three walks.
Alex Chestnutt was 3 for 3. Hailey Sarvis 1 for 3 with a two-run homer. Kelsey Carroll and Kailey Paul each contributed doubles. Carroll’s drove in two runs and Paul’s one.
Columbus County 5 Tennessee 2 (9 innings)
The odds did not favor the Columbus County 11 in the championship game against Tennessee. The young ladies had just finished a tough game with Alexandria. Tennessee had defeated Columbus County 10-6 the previous evening. None of the top three pitchers had enough innings to go a complete game due to the tournament limit on innings pitched. Lauren Smith had exhausted her innings. Kailey Paul and Alexis Suggs each had two innings remaining. Despite the obstacles facing them, the Columbus County Debs defeated Tennessee 5-2 in nine innings to claim the 2017 Dixie Debs World Series title. The Debs became the first Columbus County softball team to capture a World Series championship.
The game was scoreless through four innings. Paul retired six of the seven hitters she faced. With Paul out of innings, coach Steven Suggs called on Alex Chestnutt. Chestnutt had knocked the rust off a pitching arm used sparingly over the last three years, pitching three innings against Tennessee the previous evening. The South Columbus product limited Tennessee to two runs, three hits and one walk while striking out six over the next four and one-third innings.
Hailey Sarvis led off the Columbus fifth with a single. Chestnutt’s double scored Sarvis. Jones singled and Alexis Suggs bunt single loaded the bases. Amanda Watts’ hit to right field turned into an out when Tennessee’s right fielder charged the ball and retired Watts at first. However, a second Columbus County run scored on the play for a 2-0 lead. Tennessee broke through with a single run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Tennessee connected on back to back doubles with one out in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at two apiece. Suggs came on in relief of Chestnutt. Columbus catcher Kelsey Carroll contributed a huge defensive play, retiring a Tennessee runner attempting to advance to third. After two walks, Suggs induced a pop up to short for out three. Both teams went down one, two, three in the eighth.
Callie Sumner opened the Columbus ninth with a bunt single. Morgan Nye followed with a base hit. Hailey Sarvis walked. Chestnutt’s sacrifice fly to center scored Sumner for a 3-2 Columbus lead. Lindsey Jones’ triple provided two key insurance runs and a 5-2 advantage.
Chestnutt returned to the circle in the bottom of the ninth as Suggs had reached her inning limit after the eighth. Two strikeouts and a fly ball to centerfield later, the 2017 Columbus County Debs had accomplished what they came so close to in 2016, a World Series championship.
With inning limitations in softball, managing your personnel is a must if you want to win a championship. Head coach Steven Suggs along with assistants Travis Paul and Gary Watts role in winning the championship have played a major role in this team’s success.
Listing the team members is almost unnecessary. Each of the 11 players at some point during the series has been mentioned as a contributor on a key play or plays on the championship journey. However, here they are anyway: Paige Gore, Lauren Smith, Kailey Paul, Kelsey Carroll, Amanda Watts, Alexis Suggs, Lindsey Jones, Alex Chestnutt, Hailey Sarvis, Morgan Nye and Callie Sumner.