Florida downs Ponytails

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By Robert Howey

The Lancaster Dixie Softball Ponytails all-stars headed home Tuesday minus the coveted World Series title trophy, but with plenty of diamond pride.

Florida, rebounding from an early 2-0 deficit, ralllied for an 8-4 comeback win over Lancaster at the Dixie Ponytails World Series in Pineville, La., on Monday afternoon.

“We went 2-2 and finished in the top six,” Lancaster coach Rick Sims said. “Our goal was the World Series title, but we’re still proud of these girls.”

“That gave it a good shot and represented our city and county about as well as could be expected. I couldn’t be prouder of our girls and coaches.”

The Lancaster Ponytails, who went 9-3 in postseason play, opened a 2-0 lead on Florida on Monday, but Florida rallied to take a 5-2 lead.

Lancaster sliced the Florida lead to 5-4, but Florida added three runs in the fifth inning to seal.

The pitching trio of Ashley Lloyd, Lauren Rowell and Katy Ghent each worked the mound for Lancaster.

“Florida’s a very strong hitting team,” Sims said. “They’re talented and they make things happen at the plate.”

Sims said the team is grateful for the support for the team in its postseason run, which included the district crown and state championship along with the Ponytails World Series bid.

Sims added a special thanks to Ronnie Gardner at Gameday Sports and Awards.

“Ronnie donated a second uniform for the girls and this gave us a source of pride,” Sims said.

The Ponytails fell to Tennessee 3-2 on Saturday, but rebounded with a pair of shutout wins on Sunday to stay alive in the series.

Lancaster blanked Mississippi 2-0 after taking a 4-0 win over Georgia in its two wins Sunday.

In the win over Mississippi, Ashley Lloyd, Lauren Rowell and Katy Ghent combined on a four-hitter.

Rowell and Ghent each struck out three and Ashley Lloyd had two strikeouts. The Lancaster pitchers didn’t allow a walk.

Claire Brown and Alli Yarborough each had two hits. Lloyd and Rowell had a hit apiece and T’aria Ingram drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt.

Lancaster launched play Sunday with a 4-0 win over Georgia. Lloyd worked two innings and struck out two with no walks and not hits allowed.

Rowell hurled two innings and struck out five batters. She gave up a walk and a hit.

Ghent and Haley Faulkenberry worked one inning each. Ghent struck out one and yielded a hit. Faulkenberry had two strikeouts and gave up a hit. Ghent and Faulkenberry didn’t allow a walk.

Erica Blackmon, Angela Sims, Rowell, Ingram, Faulkenberry, Ghent, Lloyd and Brown each had a hit to boost the Lancaster County offense.

In its opener, Lancaster County fell to Tennessee 3-2 on Saturday. Brown lead the offense with two singles in the one-run loss.

Lloyd pitched two innings and allowed no hits and no walks. She struck out one.

Rowell went two innings on the mound and struck out three. She gave up five hits and a walk. Ghent hurled two innings and yielded a hit and a walk.

“Our girls came out a little on their heels Saturday and had a tough game in our first game, but I was proud of the way we regrouped and came back to get two good wins Sunday,” Sims said.

“It would have been easy to roll over after a tough loss, but we came back hard and won two big games,” he added.