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Two-run seventh sends East Clarendon to Class A softball title, 4-3, over Dixie

TURBEVILLE—Trailing by a run in its final at-bat with the bottom of the batting order due up, it looked like East Clarendon was going to miss out on the chance to clinch the Class A softball state title on its home field.

However, the Wolverines scored a pair of runs with two outs to come from behind to defeat defending champion Dixie, 4-3, and sweep the series.  It was East Clarendon’s first championship since 2013.  Dixie defeated the Wolverines in the finals in 2014 and 2016.

“(Giving up) is easy to do, especially in a big game like this against a good team like that when we’ve lost to them in the past,” East Clarendon head coach Lisa Ard said.  “They never gave up.  Even when we got down to the bottom of our lineup, everybody was still cheering.  They believed in each other, got hits, made plays, hustled, and that error helped a lot.  They performed when the pressure was on them.”

Abby Reardon started the game-winning rally after reaching on a throwing error by Dixie shortstop Ashleigh Burton.  A pop out and a strikeout left the Hornets one out away from forcing a deciding third game at a neutral site, and a ground ball off the bat of Bailey Evans to second baseman Sommer Burton seemed destined to end the game.

Shockingly, her throw sailed over Mackenzie Freeman’s head at first base and allowed courtesy runner Zoe McElveen to move all the way to third base.  Elly Floyd followed with an RBI single to centerfield to tie the score, and Caitlin Timmons hit a flare down the right field line that fell just shy of a diving Lauren Davenport to bring in Evans with the winning run, setting off the celebration for the home faithful.

“She’s a pretty consistent player.  She’s pulled us through the last two games,” Ard said of Timmons, who had a two-run home run in the team’s 3-1 victory in game one of the series.  “She hit over .450 this season.  I was just very, very proud of her tonight.  She hit that gap and the ball fell just under the glove and we were able to get that run in.”

“It was about focus and not letting the seventh inning bother me.  We just needed a base hit to score the run,” Timmons said.  “It’s like a relief because we’ve come up short every year.  We finally got it.”

The Wolverines were only within striking distance thanks to an outstanding defensive effort by Floyd in the top of the seventh.  With a runner on second base, Davenport smacked a line drive into the gap in right center. 

Floyd raced towards the fence and went full-extension.  The ball initially went into her glove, but bounced out as she hit the ground.  She quickly relayed the ball to Olivia Singletary, who threw a seed to home plate, where Reardon tagged Bailee New to keep the score at 3-2.

“She laid out and then got up and threw it.  She’s strong, she’s fast, she’s determined and she doesn’t give up.  She gave it everything she got on that play,” Ard said.

Dixie grabbed the momentum early, scoring a run in the top of the first inning.  New led off with a double down the left field line before Delanie Laudenbacher reached on an error by shortstop Gracen Watts.  A bunt single by Davenport loaded the bases, but East Clarendon pitcher Marleigh Floyd got Freeman to roll a ground ball to third.

Kinsley Driggers threw to Reardon at home, who then went to first to get Freeman for what appeared to be a double play.  However, Reardon never touched the plate, allowing New to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.

Dixie added two more in the third to push the margin to 3-0.  With two outs and runners on first and second, Alex Taylor and Tallie Clamp registered back-to-back RBI singles to left field for a little breathing room.

The Wolverines finally scratched in the bottom of the fourth.  Watts opened the frame with an infield single and moved to second when Driggers reached on a fielding error.  Singletary bunted them over, and Reardon hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Watts.

East Clarendon made it 3-2 in the fifth, thanks in part to another Dixie miscue.  Mikayla Anderson walked to open the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and went to third on Marleigh Floyd’s groundout.  Evans then hit a bouncer to the left side of the infield, where Clamp bobbled it momentarily before trying to cut down the runner at the plate.  But Anderson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

New and Davenport had two hits each for the Hornets, who finished the season with a 30-7 record.  Laudenbacher took the hard-luck loss after giving up four runs (all unearned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

The Wolverines wrapped up its campaign at 22-5 overall.  Timmons and Elly Floyd combined for four of the team’s six knocks while Marleigh Floyd earned the victory inside the circle. 

 

SCORING SUMMARY

Dixie High            102   000   0—3   9   4

East Clarendon    000   110   2—4   6   2


© 2017 High School Sports Report

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