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Ninety Six blanks Latta, 6-0, in game three of AA softball series

ColumbiaNinety Six High School has won state championships in several sports. They can now add softball to their list of accomplishments.

The 2019 softball team captured the school’s first-ever state title with a 6-0 win over Latta in the deciding third game of the Class AA state softball series. The Wildcats won game one at home, 5-3, before losing at Latta in game two, 7-0.

“It feels amazing,” Ninety Six coach John Coster said. “I am proud for these girls, proud for these fans. They deserve it. I told these girls we were going to change the culture back to winning championships at Ninety Six and they did it tonight. I am very proud of them.”

The Wildcats got a huge two-run home run from sophomore first baseman Tori Barr in the bottom of the first inning. Barr got her chance to deliver after an error extended the inning and she made the most of her second dinger of the season, a drive to center field.

“Tori Barr’s home run was huge and I think it took a heaviness off our backs and we just started playing softball,” Coster said. “I know it’s the state championship but I was trying to take that focus off, like it was just another game. They came out and played like they have all season.”

“It felt really good because I have been in a slump so it felt good to get us started and get us relaxed,” Barr said. “Everyone played great tonight. All of our hard work has paid off. We have worked so hard for this since the preseason. We wanted to feel this moment.”

As it turned out, two runs was all Ninety Six starting pitcher, junior Carlee Stockman, would need.  Stockman scattered four hits and struck out six in the complete game effort. She was aided by several quality defensive plays on hard hit balls.

“We talked this morning about what the game plan was and she came out and executed it,” Coster said. “I think she felt good and she was confident. She said after the game we had a great game plan. Hat’s off to her for doing a great job.”

The Wildcats added a run in the second on an RBI double from Lou Corner, which followed a double by Stockman. Two more runs in the third made it 5-0 and another run in the fifth sealed the win. Barr doubled in the fifth and scored on a ground out by Stockman.

Latta coach Stephanie Ard, who led her program to state titles in 2015 and 2017, lamented a few misplays by her team but understands mistakes happen.

“We don’t point fingers but we all have to do our part,” Ard said. “We do everything as a team. They got some great hits. We had some great hits but we hit it right at them. They played some great defense. I’m happy for Ninety Six, winning their first state championship.

“We’ll be back here. We’re not done. I am extremely proud of them.”

For Coster, winning a first softball title is special as a coach. He hopes the win brings more respect for his program.

“I just wanted to showcase these girls and show the state how good these girls are,” he said. “We’re just from a little ol’ town but I wanted the state to know these girls in Ninety Six can play some softball.”

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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