Richmond Hill and Bryan County are starting to make a habit out of playing close games when they meet. The cross county rivals have alternated nail biting wins their last three softball meetings.
While the Lady Redskins took the first of this seasons home at home series 3-2, to start the season, the Lady Cats clawed back to even the series at Wildcat Field on Wednesday 4-3. Pitching has dominating factor on both occasions.
For Richmond Hill, freshman Jena Reddick got the start, and the win, by pitching her first complete game of the year. She struck out nine while giving up four hits but the most impressive statistic on the day was that she did not walk anyone.
The Lady Redskins Samantha Howard, who got the win the first time around, gave up only one hit to Richmond Hill, but her seven walks throughout the game - and especially a hit batsman in the seventh inning - allowed the Lady Wildcats to keep it close, then win it on a wild pitched, unearned run in the seventh.
Lady Cat first baseman Lauren Davis led off that seventh inning and advanced after being hit by Howard’s pitch. A ground out and walk later she was at third base with just one out. After a series of time outs by both benches, the Lady Redskins had drawn the outfield and infield in to cut off the run at the plate, and coach Reagan brought in Karysa Ventura to pinch run at third.
With Caitlyn Casey at the plate Howard launched a pitch over the head of catcher Lindsay Seger that went to the backstop. Ventura got a good break on the pitch and just slid under the tag attempt by Howard to end the game.
Howard struck out ten batters but from beginning to end it was her lack of control - and Reddick’s command of it, that made the difference.
Melanie Goolsby (who has a knack for scoring when she leads off a game) walked, stole two bases and scored on a ground out to open the game. The score stayed that way with both pitchers dominating until the fifth.
Bryan County’s Tara Miles led off the inning with a single and would score on Rebecca Horton’s sacrifice bunt two batters later. Then, with two outs and it looking like Reddick would escape with out any more damage, a throwing error at second base scored another run, and then a double to left field by Ashley Barfield that probably should have been caught scored another and gave the Lady Redskins a 3-1 lead.
Undeterred, the Lady Cats would come back in their half of the inning.
After Katie Nance reached on an error, Goolsby got on board with a ground ball fielders choice. Davis walked moving Goolsby to second and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Reddick then helped her own cause with a hard hit ball to the hole between short and third that the shortstop Barfield managed to glove and get a throw home that was just too late to get the speedy Goolsby running on contact.
Erin Hefner’s ground out RBI scored Lauren Davis to tie the game and that is all the offense they needed until the last inning. The Lady Cats won the game playing small ball; contact hitting and good base running provided all the offense they needed on this day - Reddick did the rest.
The Lady Cats improve to 8-4, 2-1 in region 3-AAA and will now host South Effingham this Tuesday, then host Liberty County on Thursday, both games are 4 p.m. starts. They might need a little more than small ball to get it done against these next two opponents but if their pitching continues to shine they should have a shot.
-Also check out a photo gallery of the cross-county game in this week's online sports section.