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Bassett claims PD's top seed in softball
Bassett softball head coach Terry Triplett, center and players Taylor Mabry, left, and Abby Williams celebrate Williams' game-winning RBI single during a game Friday night against Tunstall. Bassett won 7-6, which gave them the PD tournament top seed and an automatic region playoff bid. (Photo by Ray Reynolds)
Sunday, May 20, 2012
By CHRIS PRIDE - Bulletin Sports Writer
With an automatic berth in the Region IV tournament at stake Friday night, the Piedmont District playoff seeding softball game between co-regular season champs Bassett and Tunstall featured tense situations and timely hits.
But, ultimately, it was all about the comeback.
Just two days removed from suffering a walk-off loss in the final inning Wednesday to Patrick County, the Bengals were thankful it was them this time that had the last at bat in Stuart.
Three consecutive two-out hits — including the game-winning RBI single by Abby Williams — sent Bassett home with a 7-6 walk-off victory over Tunstall. Both teams finished the regular season as co-champions, but Friday’s game determined the PD tournament seedings and gave the winner an automatic bid into the Region IV playoffs.
“We’re still Piedmont District co-champs and this was more or less just for seeding, but it did give us an automatic bid into the region playoffs,” Bassett head coach Terry Triplett said. “I would’ve liked to win it straight out, but this has to be good for us. It should help our confidence and not press as much.”
The Trojans had come back to beat the Bengals (17-2) earlier in the season at Bassett.
The game Friday featured four lead changes, but it was the last one that mattered most.
With her team in a 6-5 lead and the top of Bassett’s order leading off the final inning, Trojan pitcher Courtney Cook retired her counterpart in the circle, Taylor Mabry, and struck out Michelle Martin.
Jordan Joyce then punched a single through the right side of the infield for a two-out hit to keep hope alive.
Catcher Laura Davis then brought her home all the way from first for the tying run after blasting her second double of the game to right field. That set the stage for Williams, who delivered the heroics with a single to center scoring Davis and igniting a wild celebration at home plate.
“I had confidence in (Davis) that she would get on, and then I had confidence in myself,” Williams said. “This is what you live for, two outs and down by one run. We know that when we get down we can work ourselves back together.”
Joyce, Davis and Williams combined to go 7-for-12, with four extra base-hits, six RBIs and four runs scored. Mabry atoned for a difficult night in the circle by reaching base three times, scoring twice, stealing three bases and recording an RBI.
“It takes a really good team to come back from a loss and then when you’re losing in the last inning,” Davis said. “We’re just that kind of team; we never give up. We might not have known how many out there were, we just came up swinging, and it doesn’t matter.”
As for Triplett, he’s had a tough time keeping his emotions in check over the last two games.
“I haven’t slept a whole lot myself. I wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking softball,” he said. “I kept saying, ‘We can get them with two, we can get them with two.’ You could just see the determination in their eyes in that last inning.”
In all, the Bengals recorded five RBIs with two outs in the game.
The turning point appeared to be the sixth inning. While Tunstall (12-7) took its second lead of the game after a string of four straight singles, the damage could’ve have been a lot worse.
After taking a 6-5 lead on RBI hits by No. 9 hitter Carrington Atkins — who was 2-for-2 with two runs scored — and Cook out of the No. 2 spot, a big situation arose with No. 3 batter Courtney Yarbrough.
The junior slugger had already taken Mabry deep for a three-run homer in the third and had laced a double off the fence in right-center. Mabry, however, struck her out swinging on a well-timed change up for the second out of the inning, and she induced a groundout to end the threat.
“The game went kind of like a see-saw, and we left some opportunities out there with runners on second and third two separate times,” said Tunstall head coach Caine DeVivi, whose team stranded seven runners total, five in scoring position. “In a game of this magnitude, we really have to take advantage of every scoring opportunity that we get. The top of their lineup is just brutal and then have a great pitcher to back that up.”
Bassett struck first in the first inning with two runs, as a Joyce triple and Davis single provided the early run support. Yarbrough’s towering blast then put the Trojans up one in the third as Atkins and Corbin Holder began the inning with back-to-back hits.
The lead was short-lived as the Bengals responded with two in their half of the third to take a 4-3 lead with consecutive two-out hits by Davis and Williams. Mabry then added some insurance in the fifth by driving in Jordan Janey with a hit to right.
Tunstall will take on Patrick County on Tuesday in the PD tournament semifinals, while Bassett awaits the winner of Magna Vista and Martinsville.