When the Calhoun Lady Jackets and the Sonoraville Lady Phoenix took the field on Tuesday night, most people probably expected the contest to be a close battle throughout. The patrons got just that, and a little bit more, as the game technically has not ended yet.
Mother Nature had other plans in mind as Tuesday featured scorching temperatures that pushed back first pitch to 7:45 p.m. Hours later, the game entered a delay due to storms and lightning in the area. Finally, just after 10:30 p.m., with the game tied 2-2, both coaches agreed to suspend the contest until Monday, Aug. 19, due to inbound rain and consideration of school Wednesday morning.
Per GHSA rules, games can no longer end in a tie.
How we got here
So how did we get to a 2-2 deadlock? The battle was scoreless through the first four innings, as Calhoun’s Maggie McBrayer and Sonoraville’s Taylor Long went toe-to-toe, eliminating any solid chance of a scoring opportunity.
Calhoun finally broke the draw in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on first and second, junior Lyndi Rae Davis singled to right field, bringing senior Carlie Henderson to the plate.
As the top of the sixth inning was set to begin, the lightning delay began as both teams cleared the field. When play resumed about 30 minutes later, Sonoraville’s bats came to life.
A single and a sac bunt to lead off the bottom half of the sixth saw sophomore Grace Crocker in scoring position with one out. Senior Sandra Beth Pritchett singled to left field, but a throwing error allowed Crocker to score the tying run from third base.
On the next batter, McBrayer recorded a strikeout, but with two down and a runner halfway home, senior Shayna Dutton singled to center field, scoring Pritchett and giving Sonoraville its first lead of the game.
Calhoun would not go quietly into the night. With the bases in the top of the seventh inning with one out, sophomore Malysha Winston hit into a fielder’s choice to home plate. The cutoff throw was late and we were tied again, 2-2. Sonoraville’s Long regained control of the situation, downing the Lady Jacket threat with a strikeout and a 6-3 groundout.
Pitching-wise saw both McBrayer and Long go seven innings and each record nine punch outs.
“It’s always a very, very tight game when we play each other,” Smith said following the seven innings. “Emotions are flowing and it’s always a good game to watch.”
“That’s how these games go,” Lady Phoenix head coach Chad Hayes said. “If you’ve seen us play these last few years, they’re going to come down to the end. We’re probably going to go to extra innings or somebody’s going to win it in the bottom of the seventh. That’s just how we are and you wouldn’t have it any other way with your cross-town rivals. It’s just two great teams going at it and somebody’s going to come out on top in the end.”
Lady Phoenix honor Jerry Smith
Tuesday also marked the first time Calhoun and Sonoraville met on the same softball field since the passing of former Calhoun football coach Jerry Smith. Jerry is the late husband of Lady Jackets Softball head coach Diane Smith.
Before the game began, the Sonoraville Lady Phoenix honored Jerry by presenting coach Diane Smith with a picture of him at home plate. Smith said the gesture touched her heart.
“That was awesome,” Smith said. “Made me cry. That was very classy.”
It goes to show you some things are bigger than the softball contest itself and the fierce rivalry between Calhoun and Sonoraville.
The game will resume on Monday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. at Sonoraville High School. The Lady Jackets will be up to bat in the top of the eighth inning.