Watauga's softball team's rally falls short
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Freedom used a four-run inning to take a big enough lead to hold on to a 7-6 victory over Watauga Friday afternoon at Watauga's field.
Freedom broke a 2-2 tie with a four-run rally -- none of them
earned -- in the fifth inning. The inning was sparked by a two-out Watauga
error, which allowed Freedom to score two runs on the play.
Freedom added two more runs in the inning on a two-run double by Rebecca Epley, which gave the Patriots a 7-2. In the first inning, after another Watauga error, Epley belted a two-run triple, giving her two doubles and four RBIs.
Of Freedom's seven runs, six of them were unearned.
"It's that fifth inning," Pioneers coach Stephanie Kostis said. "That fifth inning, they put four runs on us, but we didn't see the change in the body language. We didn't see the shoulder's slumping or the girls about to give up. They had the fight in them from the first pitch all the way to the last play."
It was more than enough for the Pioneers to overcome, but it's not like they didn't try. Watauga cut into the lead by one run with an RBI triple by Elizabeth Dollar in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 7-3.
Watauga's big rally came in the seventh inning. Rachel Hawkins and Sarah Combs both reached base and scored runs to cut Freedom's lead to 7-5.
Megan Jackson added an RBI single, but it would be as close as the Pioneers would get. Dollar, who singled in the inning, was thrown out at second base to end the inning.
Watauga looked ready to put up some big numbers after hitting thee doubles in the first inning. Dollars started the assault with a double, and scored on a Shelby Winebarger doubled one batter later.
Two batters later, Jackson doubled to drive in Winebarger and tie the game 2-2.
"We looked like we were going to take it to them," Kostis said. "Sometimes we've struggled against a slow pitcher. She's got good speed, but she's slower than what we've seen this week, so it took us a little while for us to get used to it. We made great adjustments early on during an at-bat instead of striking out and waiting until next time."
Watauga's offense struggled to get much else off Freedom pitcher Haley Bumgarner, who set down 10 of the next 11 Watauga batters, including nine in a row.
The Pioneers did not score again until Combs scored on Dollar's triple in the fifth. Dollar went 3-for-4 and nearly hit for the cycle. She also scored a run.
Bumgarner struck seven Pioneers.
Jackson, who started on the mound for the Pioneers, struck out four and didn't walk any in the first four innings. Michala McCune pitched the rest of the game. She finished with three strikeouts and walked one.
Watauga's next two games are on the road. The Pioneers play at Hibriten on Tuesday and at Ashe County on Wednesday. They'll host Patton on Thursday.
Freedom 7, Watauga 6
Freedom 200 041 0 -- 7 8 3
Watauga 200 010 3 -- 6 9 2
Bumgarner and Queen. Jackson, McCune (5) and Winebarger. W--Bumgarner, L--McCune. LOB--Freedom 6, Watauga 5. 2B--Freedom, Smith, Epley 2; Watauga, Dollar, Winebarger, Jackson. 3B--Watauga, Dollar. SF--Watauga, Winebarger. SB--Freedom, Crump.