PILOT MOUNTAIN — The East Surry softball team dug itself into a hole with some ill-timed errors against South Stokes, last week, but the roles reversed in the final innings.
The Lady Cardinals (10-4, 2-1) erased a five-run deficit with some quality hitting and eventually walked off Wednesday, April 6 with a 10-9 win in extras thanks to a pair of Lady Saura errors.
With the score tied at nine in the bottom of the eighth, East Surry got its first three runners on to load the bases. Brooke Whittington singled up the middle and advanced to second on an error by the South Stokes center fielder. Emily Cummings and Haley Jennelle each walked, bringing up Brooke Bowman.
South Stokes (3-6, 2-1) pitcher Charley Fallin was ahead in the count at 1-2 when Bowman ripped a ground ball back where it came from. Fallin didn’t field it cleanly and had to rush her throw home, resulting in a ball that skipped past the catcher and allowed Whittington to slide in safely for the game-winning run.
“South Stokes had the game ended a couple times, but they made some mistakes that kept us in it,” East Surry coach Randy Marion said. “When you put the ball in play, good things happen. We never gave up and kept the pressure on. It didn’t hurt that we also had some really big hits earlier on.”
East Surry entered the bottom of the seventh facing a 9-8 deficit, but the Lady Cards were able to scratch across a run to force extra innings. Hannah Joyce hustled down the line for a one-out infield single to get the rally going.
Hayley Whittaker followed Joyce with a hit by pitch. After Amber Brown struck out, Serena Pickens fought off a couple pitches before hitting a ground ball to South Stokes’ shortstop, whose flip to second baseman Makinsie Wagner was dropped.
That loaded the bases for Bethany Clayton, who ripped a grounder back to the Sauras’ pitcher. The ball hit off Fallin’s leg, giving Clayton enough time to leg out another infield single. Whittaker tried to take home on the play, but was thrown out at the plate, moving the game to extra innings.
Cummings, who was the East Surry pitcher on Wednesday, struggled with location throughout much of the night. However, with the game tied and her team holding all of the momentum, Cummings set South Stokes down in order in the top of the eighth.
“It took Emily a little while to adjust to how South Stokes was taking away the outside corner,” Marion said. “That’s where Emily likes to pitch, but when we needed some big outs, she got them.”
Early on, it looked like South Stokes might cruise to victory. The Sauras scored three runs in the top of the first and held a 7-2 lead entering the bottom of the third thanks to four East Surry errors.
The Lady Cardinals began their comeback at that point. Jennelle blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall to cut the Saura lead to 7-4. It was a timely hit that helped halt the South Stokes momentum.
“That was a big home run by Haley. At the time, we really needed that kind of spark,” Coach Marion said.
East Surry continued its comeback in the fifth. Whittington started the inning with a double into the right center field gap, and she immediately came around to score when Cummings blasted a moon-shot home run into right field, trimming the deficit to 7-6.
One out later, Bowman reached base on a hit by pitch and Joyce laced a single up the middle. After a strikeout by Whittaker, the Lady Cardinals had runners on first and second with two outs.
Brown was the next batter, and she came through, driving a double down the left-field line. Both runners raced around the bases to score, and East Surry had its first lead of the night at 8-7.
Cummings surrendered the lead in the top of the sixth with three walks in the inning, but she was able to strand the bases loaded to keep her team within striking distance before its eventual comeback.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16