While the process may not have been pretty, the final result for the Wilson Hall softball team on Monday was absolutely beautiful.
Kathryn Sistare's single back up the middle scored Becka Noyes with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth …
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Kathryn Sistare's single back up the middle scored Becka Noyes with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Lady Barons a 6-5 victory over Cardinal Newman in in the opening game of the SCISA 3A state championship series at Patriot Park SportPlex.
"The philosophy behind our team this year has been 'for each other,'" said WH head coach Teresa Alexander, whose team came from behind twice before winning. "I think that applies to tonight. First, we didn't hit the ball tonight. Second, we didn't play clean defense. But when it came down to it, the girls were there for each other and did what they had to do win."
The Lady Barons improved to 25-9 on the season while taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series. Game 2 was scheduled for Tuesday in Columbia but was postponed because of rain. It has been rescheduled for today at 6 p.m. at the CN field. If a third game is needed, it will be played on Thursday at a neutral site.
Monday's game went to extra innings tied at 5-5 after both teams scored a run in the seventh. With the international tiebreaker rule in place, that meant each team started the eighth with a runner at second.
Karen Hocutt started at second for CN in the top of the inning. She moved to third on a wild pitch, but the Lady Cardinals popped up three times on bunt attempts against the offerings of Wilson Hall pitcher Drake Ives.
Noyes started on second for the Lady Barons in the bottom of the inning. Madison Sliwonik popped up her attempt, but Sistare dropped a single into center against CN pitcher Jasmine Hogan, and Noyes easily beat the throw home.
"I just went up there and cleared my mind," Sistare said. "This was all about the team. Everything we did led to that moment."
"Winning the first game is huge," Alexander said. "I think it allows you the opportunity to refocus, to prepare for the next game without as much pressure. It allows you to prepare with maybe some different strategies."
In the seventh, Cardinal Newman's Hannah Bostic singled to right with two outs. The ball got by rightfielder Caitleigh Bryant and Bostic went all the way to third. She scored on Hogan's single.
Hogan retired Madison Elmore to start Wilson Hall's half of the seventh. However, Carly Allred slapped a single into short left field to reach base. Ives, who had hit a game-tying, 3-run home run in the fifth, walked on four pitches to move Allred to second.
A fly to right by Sydney Jarecki moved Allred to third and brought Liza Lowder to the plate. She hit a chopper that went halfway down the third base line. Lady Cardinals third baseman Maddie Dinkins chose to field the ball and Lowder beat the throw to first as Allred scored the tying run.
Allred was 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
Ives struck out 13 in her complete game performance, but had an uneven game. She didn't record a 1-2-3 inning.
The Lady Cardinals got runners to third in each of the first four innings against Ives, but couldn't push a run across.
Ives walked leadoff batter M.K. Gillespie to start the game. She was on third two pitches later on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Ives responded by striking out Kaytlin Greenwood, Dinkins and Bostic.
Ives walked Hogan to start the second. Hogan advanced to second on a passed ball and was sacrificed to third by Hocutt. Ives responded again, striking out Cam Argoe and Erin Boyer.
With one out in the third, Gillespie hit a grounder down the third base line that the home plate umpire initially called a foul ball. After a consultation with the third base umpire, the ball was called fair and Gillespie was awarded second with a double.
That brought a heated discussion from Alexander, but to no avail.
"I told him there's no doubt the ball was fair, but it was called foul and that means it's a dead ball," Alexander said.
Ives got out of the jam by getting Greenwood to ground out, moving Gillespie to third. She struck out Dinkins for the final out.
Bostic dropped a single into shallow center to start the fourth. Ives proceeded to strike out Hogan and Hocutt, but Bostic got to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch. Ives got out of trouble again by catching Argoe looking at a called third strike.
Ives looked to be heading to her easiest inning in the fifth when she retired the first two trying to bunt. However, things turned quickly.
Gillespie was hit by a pitch and Greenwood hit one just behind the circle that neither third baseman Sliwonik nor shortstop Elmore could reach. Dinkins hit a line drive that hit off the glove of first baseman Noyes that loaded the bases.
Bostic followed with a slicing line drive to right. Lady Barons rightfielder Amelia Weston came in on the ball, but it hit her glove and then her face as well. The bases were cleared with Bostic ending up on third to make it 3-1.
After a delay as Weston was taken care of and removed from the game, Hogan singled back up the middle to drive in Bostic and make it 4-1.
Wilson Hall didn't stay down long though. Bryant, who replaced Weston in right, hit a shot to right just inside the line that ended up as a ground rule double. After an out, Allred reached on a bunt single.
That brought Ives to the plate, and she hit a 1-2 pitch to straight center that easily cleared the fence for the game-tying homer.
"I just love being in those kind of pressure situations," Ives said. "When I saw Amelia go down, that made me think of 'for each other.' She's my best friend, and I did that for her."
Wilson Hall's first run came in its half of the first. Allred legged out a bunt for an infield single with one out. She stole second and scored on a 2-out double to the gap in right-center field by Sydney Jarecki to make it 1-0.
The Lady Barons looked to have another run in the fourth when Madison Sliwonik hit a line drive into the gap in left-center. Centerfielder Hogan laid out while running to the gap and made a diving grab to keep Jarecki, who had walked, from scoring.
Bostic was 2-for-4 with two runs scored for CN, while Hogan was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
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