In high school softball, your offense gets a total of 21 outs over seven innings to try and do the damage needed to come away with a victory.
On Tuesday, it took the Sonoraville Lady Phoenix close to every single one of those outs to earn a big win in a rivalry matchup.
Trailing 2-1 going to the seventh on their home field against cross-county foe Gordon Central, Sonoraville rallied for two runs with the final one coming on a walk-off single by senior Tiffany Vowell for a 3-2 win.
After the inning started off with a groundout, Sonoraville (5-6, 2-1) got a double from Kolbey Smith followed by a would-be groundout from Thaley Jackson that was mishandled by the Lady Warriors, putting runners on second and third. Smith and Jackson moved up on a pitch that got to the backstop, and then Baylee Blaylock hit a ground ball to second, which was fielded and thrown home, but Smith beat the throw to the plate.
After the tying run came across, Vowell stepped up and ripped a single up the middle to lift her team to the win.
Sonoraville coach Chad Hayes said he was pleased with the outcome after his team didn’t start the game with the mentality he expected.
“With it being a rivalry game, I’m not sure how it affected the girls, but we didn’t come out ready to play early on,” said Hayes. “We weren’t mentally into it, but I’m proud of how the girls came back and played the last few innings. We did what we needed to do to get the win. Tiffany stepped up and drove one through the infield at the end.
“Every game is important in this region. You can’t let one get away or it will haunt you down the road. I’m proud of how the girls responded to get the win today.”
The Lady Phoenix took a 1-0 lead with a run in the third that came home on an RBI-single from Abby Connally that drove in Harleigh Chastain.
Gordon Central (5-10, 0-4) would respond, however, in the fifth, stringing a few hits together, the biggest coming from Cailey Martin and MacKenzie Hall on back-to-back RBI singles. They had a chance to add more but left the bases loaded.
Sonoraville also had a bases loaded opportunity in the sixth but couldn’t get the timely hit in the inning to leave them stranded.
“You never know what you’re going to get in rivalry games,” said Hayes. “Sometimes you come out emotionally high and sometimes you come out and play tight. I think we started the game a little tight and weren’t as mentally focused as we should’ve been.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Gordon Central, though. They played well today and made the plays they needed to give themselves a chance to win. I’m just glad we picked it up at the end and came out with a win.”
Sonoraville’s Thaley Jackson and Gordon Central’s Heaven Campbell were both solid in the circle for their teams. Jackson earned the win, going all seven innings and giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out three.
Campbell took the tough-luck loss, going 6 1-3 (complete game) and giving up three runs (two earned) on 10 hits while striking out three.
Offensively for the Lady Warriors, Martin and Hall led the way with two hits apiece. Megan Campbell, Ryann Luna and Jessie Brooks also had hits.
For Sonoraville, Smith and Jordan Brown had two hits apiece, and Chastain, Connally, Blaylock and Blair Robinson each added a hit.
The Lady Phoenix are dealing with the injury bug currently as they are without starting pitcher Lily Hayes, who had preseason knee surgery, Erin Whitlock, who has been sidelined with shoulder and ankle injuries and Kendall Bowman, who suffered a concussion and other minor injuries on a collision in right field during Monday’s game at Adairsville.
Hayes said right now the goal for his team is to be mentally strong and for girls to step up in the absence of others.
“We’ve got some new faces in the lineup, and the continuity really isn’t there,” said Hayes. “I think that has a little effect at the plate and in the field. But it’s just got to be next girl up. We can’t let it change our outlook and approach.
“We’ve just got to stay positive and come out ready to play every game. We’ve got to be ready from the get-go and not wait to get into the game.”
The Lady Phoenix host rival Calhoun on Wednesday at 5:30; Gordon Central hosts Ringgold on Thursday at 5:55 p.m.