The St. Stephens softball team fought back from a 5-1 deficit late in its game against Lake Norman, but fell just short of a comeback.
The Lady Indians (4-3) scored three runs in the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough. The Lady Wildcats picked up the 5-4 victory to maintain their 8-0 record.
Trailing 5-1 and heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Indians coach Jan Davis gave her team an impassioned speech as players came off the field.
“I asked them if they were done or if they were quitting,” Davis said. “They said ‘no.’ They picked it up and they were ready to play. That is something I do with them. I challenge them.”
The coach’s speech seemed to work. The Indians were able to get on base and in scoring position. Junior Vonna Wood and senior Emily Leagon led off the inning with two singles to put runners on the corners.
Darian Fisher doubled on the next at-bat to score Wood and put runners on second and third. Leagon scored from third on an error by Lake Norman third basemen Shelby Bailey and Fisher advanced to third.
After a flyout, Indians pitcher Katie Baker helped her cause with a single, which plated Fisher and it was down to a one-run game.
With two outs after a strikeout of the next batter, Lady Wildcats’ pitcher Kayla Pine closed out the game. She struck out the last batter to end the game and seal the Lady Wildcats’ 5-4 victory.
Lake Norman took the lead in the game by breaking a 1-1 tie in the top of the sixth innning. With the bases loaded, Kayla McGuffy drove a ball into shallow right-center field to score Dominque Wilson and Kayla Pine. That gave Lake Norman its first lead, 3-1.
The Lady Wildcats added two more runs in the top of the seventh, the first of which came off the bat of Stacey Houser. She drove a ball deep into the corner in left field to score an inside the park home run.
Wilson scored her second run of the game on a passed ball from newly inserted catcher Taylor Lail. The freshman was playing for Molli Huffman, who left the game because of dehydration.
Huffman scored the lone run for the Lady Indians going into the bottom of the seventh.
“Taylor has been doing well in practice,” Davis said. “To stick her in the game at last minute, she seemed to have a ‘deer in the headlights’ look. She did really well though and stepped up to the plate. She has caught Katie (Baker) several times. As for feeling comfortable catching Katie, I think she felt OK. There was just the pressure of coming in the game.”
Fisher, Baker and Huffman each finished with one RBI. Wood finished 2-for-3 in the game with a single, triple and one run scored. Baker pitched seven innings, striking out nine batters and allowing four walks.