Lady Eagles’ Tourney Run Ends in Final Four

SUMTER (May 16, 2016) – The Richard Winn Lady Eagles drudged their way through the rigorous two-day SCISA Class A state softball tournament Friday and Saturday, playing their way into the final four before falling in their fifth contest of the weekend to a tough Colleton Prep team.

“The tournament schedule the first day is good because everybody gets to play two games,” Eagles head coach Millie Lambert said. “On the next day, it’s play, play, play; of course in the middle of the day, and it’s in the middle of the heat, it’s hard to overcome any kind of losses whenever you get in the loser’s bracket, then you’ve got to go straight to playing more games.”

In game one on Friday afternoon, the Lady Eagles met with Curtis Baptist, a school from Augusta, Ga. With Bailey Taylor on the mound, who pitched complete games in all five of Richard Winn’s match-ups, they easily breezed through the Crusaders.

In addition to pitching the one-hit complete game, Taylor also added an RBI and came in to score three times.

“She went the distance for us no matter what,” Lambert said. “We expected her to be on the mound for us every game, and she pulled through. Even when we were going three-and-out, she was there to pull us out. She’s a leader on the batting end and pitching side.”

Alyssa Atkerson and Riley Simpson had an RBI apiece in the 10-0 whooping of Curtis Baptist. This set Richard Winn up to play against Clarendon Hall later on Friday night.

The Lady Eagles continued to roll in the second game as Taylor exerted her will on yet another lineup, pitching five complete scoreless innings with five strikeouts. She also came through with the stick, batting in four runs off two doubles.

Again, Atkerson and Simpson each picked up an RBI, the second of the day for both. Atkerson also had a triple to boot.

It was clear that Clarendon was out-matched, and the Lady Eagles took advantage with another five-inning, 10-0, rout. This year’s day one was a vast improvement on last year’s, when the Lady Eagles went 0-2, and were eliminated on the first day.

“Last year we were two and out,” Lambert said. “We played the first two games and were done. This year we knew the importance of winning the first game in order to continue with the series, and we did. So I think the momentum from the first game definitely carried us through.”

The Lady Eagles’ 2-0 start on day one sent them into a showdown with an incredibly solid Holly Hill squad at 11 a.m. on day two of the tournament. The game shaped up to be a closely contested one.

Richard Winn scored two in the top of the first, behind an Atkerson triple and a Taylor RBI. Kimmy Albert also knocked a run across in the first inning.

Holly Hill was quick to answer back with two runs of their own. One scored on an error and one scored on a sacrifice bunt for the first two runs that the Lady Eagles had given up in the tournament.

After the tight first inning the Lady Raiders scored two unanswered runs, one in the third and one in the fourth, and went up 4-2. Mistakes got the best of the Lady Raiders in the fifth when they gave up three runs to the Lady Eagles, all coming by way of the error or wild pitch.

Richard Winn slipped up as well in the fifth inning, and Holly Hill quickly scored three runs to negate the Lady Eagles’ productive top half of the fifth. When the frame had ended, the Lady Raiders had stretched their lead to 7-5. The Raiders put up two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to extend their cushion to four runs, but the Eagles were not done yet.

Atkerson knocked in two runs, and it looked as if the Eagles would have a shot to tie it up with the powerful Taylor coming to bat. But the base runner was tagged out and Taylor did not get her at-bat. The rally was squashed and Holly Hill escaped with a narrow 9-7 victory.

The loss did not eliminate the Lady Eagles, but it did send them into the loser’s bracket, meaning they had to play region foe Wardlaw Academy later in the evening to survive in the tournament.

Just as they had done on two occasions earlier this season, the Lady Eagles topped the Patriots, this time by a final of 8-3. Taylor, just as she had all tournament long, came up big on both the mound and in the batter’s box.

She knocked in Jennifer Haney, who had singled earlier in the inning, with a big two-run homer. Taylor also had an RBI double in the contest, in addition to pitching all seven innings, striking out six and only allowing two earned runs.

Sally Costenbader picked up her first RBI of the tournament, and Atkerson continued to be a run-producing machine by collecting another RBI single. The Lady Eagles’ third victory of the tournament propelled them into the final four teams and put them on a collision course with Colleton Prep, who had yet to lose a game in the tournament.

The tight scheduling of the Eagles’ games meant that they only had around a 30-minute break between matching up with Wardlaw and Colleton Prep, whereas Colleton had nearly five-hours of downtime between games.

Taking advantage of the Eagles’ fatigue the Warhawks were able to amass an early 6-0 lead, including an RBI double and triple. Richard Winn put up a run in the fourth on an error, but Colleton starter Ally Knight was dealing and made a comeback nearly impossible for the Lady Eagles.

“I do think the fatigue was definitely the biggest factor in this loss,” Lambert said. “If we would have been fresh I think we would’ve played a different ball game, but with the sun and the amount of innings we’ve had to play today, I think it was tough.”

Knight went five full innings, rang-up four and only allowed one run to the usually high-caliber RWA offense. The Warhawks’ offense was clicking on all cylinders, putting up 11 runs and causing the game to be called after five innings with the final score of 11-1.

Colleton will face Holly Hill in the championship series that will take place on Monday and Tuesday, with a third game, if necessary, slated for Wednesday.

“You can’t describe how proud I am of these girls,” Lambert said. “Last year we were two and out, this year they went to the top four teams for 1-A SCISA. They have nothing to hang their heads about. I have nothing to hang my head about.”