WA Softball Rd 4 States vs Morehead (5/22-23/12)
May 24, 2012By Theresa Bell of Western Alamance High School
Warriors conquer rival, reach softball regional final
Courtesy of Conor O'Neill / Times-News
EDEN — Western Alamance senior catcher Kelsey Rice knew Eden Morehead pitcher Evie Scott would throw a screwball with the bases loaded and two outs.
After all, Rice had a full day to think about her first at-bat, which came Tuesday.
“(Tuesday night) she came in with screwball, first pitch and the next one I popped out,” Rice said. “So I knew she was coming in screwball again … so when that came in, I had to jump on it.”
She jumped on Scott’s 1-1 offering in the top of the fifth inning and sent it right back up the middle to score Kendall McKinney and Sydney Brooks. Those runs ended up being the deciding tallies in a 3-1 victory for Western Alamance in a Class 3-A fourth-round state playoff game.
Western Alamance moves into the regional finals, where it faces Pikeville Aycock in a best-of-3 series. The first game of that series will be a road game Thursday 5/24 at 6:00, with the second being Friday at WMS Softball Complex at 5:00.
Wednesday’s game picked up in the fourth inning after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in three innings on Tuesday night. Action was called off due to lightning in the area, creating a stressful day at school for Rice.
“I knew when I walked away from the field (Tuesday) that it was going to be so hard to wait because it was impossible to wait those few days last week between games,” Rice said. “Just adding that on, it was very stressful.”
Things didn’t become any less stressful after the Warriors (25-3) took the lead.
Eden Morehead (23-2) put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth inning, but pitcher Jessica Griffin enticed Panthers’ cleanup batter Brandy Scherer to strike out on an outside offering.
“I was really nervous. I was just thinking to hit my spots,” Griffin said of her mindset after Rice’s go-ahead hit. “The emotional roller coaster was up and down.”
Griffin retired the side in order in the sixth, then battled more stress to record the last three outs.
Kayla Scherer led off the seventh with a single. But Griffin recorded a fielder’s choice at second base on a come-backer to the mound for the first out and third baseman Christina Walker fielder another ground ball, throwing to second baseman Sydney Brooks to clear the lead runner again.
It was Walker again for the final out, catching a hot-shot ground ball at third and firing to first baseman Tyler Miles to complete an error-free game for the Warriors.
“They were just patient out there, and an error-free ballgame,” coach Donna Deaton said. “If they continue to play error-free defense, they can really come through.”
Rice went 2-for-4 with the game’s only RBI, as each team scored an unearned run in the first inning Tuesday. Walker was 2-for-2 with a walk and Brooks was 2-for-3 with a ground-rule double in the fifth inning.
Deaton has four players in her class at Western Alamance, but said she was too busy to have time to talk about the game Wednesday.
She thought it was better to deliver her message when the team boarded the bus bound for Eden.
“We really had no time to talk about it,” Deaton said. “So when we got on the bus, I basically told the girls, ‘You know (Scott is) slow and you want to win so bad, you’re taking yourself out of the ballgame at the box. Because you want to win and you want to hit so bad. This is a game, like any other game.’ “
That mentality seemed to work, with Rice and Walker reaching on back-to-back singles in the fourth inning when the game resumed.
With Wednesday’s victory against Eden Morehead, Western Alamance is 5-2 against the Panthers in the last two seasons. The Warriors won all three games last season and won the conference tournament championship game and Wednesday’s game after losing twice in regular-season conference action.