Lady Stags edge Stratford 7-6 in last inning thriller

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dan Brown/Independent Kristen Bennett lines a single up the middle.

Photos

The Berkeley Lady Stags are 4-0 to start the 2014 season and that’s right where Coach Boogie Grooms wanted them.

“I scheduled four games for the first week of the season because I wanted to see if we could win four games in a week,” Grooms said.

Leading the Lady Stags during the season’s first week were Blake Ponder and Jessica Stanley.

Ponder is hitting at a torrid plus-.600 pace with 10 hits over Berkeley’s first four games, and Stanley notched three wins inside the circle.

“Blake has been on fire with the bat and Jess has come in well in relief to pitch solidly,” Grooms said.

The Lady Stags jumped out to a 4-0 start with big wins against Stratford (7-6), Cane Bay (8-3), Timberland (15-1) and West Ashley (10-0).

Against Stratford, Tori Singletary’s full-count, two-out bases loaded single to drive in the winning run and lead the Berkeley Lady Stags to a 7-6 win over Stratford may have defined the softball team’s season, according to Grooms.

“In the sixth inning I’m thinking ‘Oh no, here we go again,’” Grooms said of his team’s first regular season game of the year. “Usually Stratford comes back and wins these games big.”

In recent years these games seem to follow a script, almost like professional wrestling: Berkeley jumps out to a big lead and holds said lead until the game’s final three outs, then Stratford bounces off the mat, recovers in the nick of time to rally.

It happened twice last year. Not this time.

Trailing 6-5 going into the home half of the seventh and their final at bat, down to their last strike, Singletary singled to score Peyton Svagerko with the winning run and a 7-6 win.

A batter earlier Kelston Hilton laid down a drag bunt that scored Brooklyn Stone to tie the game 6-6.

“I did something during Singletary’s at-bat that I’ve never done before in my coaching career,” Grooms said. “I had her take five straight pitches.”

With the bases loaded and two outs Singletary worked a 3-0 count before Nikki Linthicum found the strike zone to run the count full.

“The rule of thumb is you take the pitch until the first strike, but I stuck with it until the count ran full.”

Grooms said Singletary had just one pitch to work with and she came through: “I had confidence in her that she’d put the ball in play and she came through in the clutch for us. This was a very big win for us and our season.”

Stone opened the inning with a base hit and advanced to second on Blake Ponder’s ground out.

Svagerko followed with a single past short to move Stone to third.

A hit batter loaded the bases for Hilton’s game-tying hit, and a hitter later Singletary drove hom Svagerko with the winning run.

Brooklyn Stone notched her first win of the year with the shutout over West Ashley firing a two-hit shutout over five innings.

Lexi Samples scored three runs with two hits, one a triple, and Payton Svegarko drove in three with a pair of hits. Blake Ponder continued her blistering pace at the plate with two hit hits, a pair of runs scored and three RBIs.

The win improved the Lady Stags to 4-0 to close out the regular season’s first week.

In the 15-1 win against Timberland, Jessica Stanley carried a shutout into the sixth inning before the Lady Wolves rallied for a single run in their last at-bat.

Stanley improved to 3-0 with the complete game win, her other two wins coming in relief against Stratford and Cane Bay.

Ponder tore the green off the ball with three hits and a pair of runs while Peyton Pinson continued to deliver the big blows with three hits, two of them doubles, and three RBIs.

Haley Welch led the offense with two hits and Kristen Bennett delivered the RBI base hit in the bottom of the sixth inning to break the shutout attempt.

Six Timberland errors resulted in the scoring of six unearned runs.

“We can’t give them five outs and expect to win,” said Coach Ben Lailson, whose team fell to 0-2 on the year.

The Lady Wolves fell to Goose Creek 9-4 on March 10.

Timberland takes on Kingstree in a doubleheader on Friday while Berkeley wraps up play on Friday with a rematch against Stratford after hosting games against Cane Bay and West Ashley.

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