Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – by John Hunt
I’m sure you’ve heard the classic line of “It’s not over until it’s over” and also the one about “it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
Take your pick, but either one would have applied as that was certainly the case at the Red Bank softball field Wednesday evening.
The Lionettes won the game with the Whitwell Lady Tigers by a final score of 6-5, but it took nine innings to do it as they improved to 16-6 with the non-district win.
Destiny Painter, one of six seniors on the Red Bank team, collected her second hit of the game and it was a biggie as her double off the fence in left drove in Layla Babb, who had reached on a Whitwell error.
Lionette ace Hannah Wood had given up a run-scoring double in the first inning, but had then retired 18 straight Whitwell batters. She was cruising along with a 5-1 lead and had gotten a pop to second for the first out in the seventh.
But that’s when the train jumped off the track for the Lionettes.
Catcher Caitlin Rollins hit an 0-1 pitch high off the wall in left for a solo homer to make it 5-2. By the time the dust had settled, Whitwell had batted around and knotted the score with four runs.
Nobody scored in the eighth, but Red Bank pulled out the win with a single run in the ninth.
There were no outs when the winning run was scored.
“I was just trying to win the game and knew I needed a good, level swing to put the ball in play,” said the 17-year-old Painter after the game ended.
“It was right down the middle and I swung as hard as I could. I didn’t see where it was going, but I just started running. That is my first game-winning hit this year, but I know several girls on Whitwell’s team and that makes it even more special,” she added.
Whitwell coach Rebecca Castle was just happy that her girls finally decided to make a game of it.
“Hitting can be contagious, but Caitlin’s bomb got us going in the seventh and good things started happening for us,” she said after the game ended.
“I’m happy that we never quit, even when we were down. We need to be more disciplined at the plate and there were some small mistakes we made that can be corrected, but nothing really counts until the post-season tournaments begin,” she added after her team dropped to 13-12 for the season.
Red Bank coach Mandi Munn was just happy that her team found a way to win in a tight situation.
“Whitwell has an outstanding team and we knew from the start it would be a battle with them,” Munn said afterward.
“It turned out to be a pretty good game, but we had the one inning where we lost focus. We had to find a way to come back from that to win and we did, so I’m pleased about that. But this was great preparation for tournaments later when all of the games will be close like this,” Munn nodded.
Wood was the winning pitcher after allowing five runs on eight hits. She also had eight strikeouts and a pair of walks.
Raylon Smith was the tough-luck loser who allowed all six runs on 13 hits. She struck out four and walked one.
There were five Red Bank players with two hits apiece, including Shelby Romans, Sami Shrader, Zoe Helms, Painter and Wood.
Wood walked Cameryn Haag to lead off the game and the spunky Whitwell shortstop scored her team’s first run on a double to right-center by Anna Yell.
That was Whitwell’s only hit until Rollins’ homer in the seventh.
Smith and Carley Terry added singles in that four-run seventh and both scored. Kynlie Higdon had an RBI-single while Haag drove in another with a sacrifice fly to right. The fourth run scored on a Red Bank error.
The Lionettes had scored two runs in each of the first two innings before adding a fifth in the fifth.
Romans singled with one out in the first and scored on a double by Shrader. The throw back to the infield went wide of third base, allowing Shrader to trot home with the second run.
Kelsey Peden had a leadoff double in the second and scored on another double by Bailee Phillips. Babb’s sacrifice fly to right sent Phillips home for a 4-1 lead after two.
Then in the fifth, Romans led off with a single and went to second on another Whitwell error. She then advanced to third on a single by Helms before scoring on a sac fly to center by Shrader.
Haag had made some dazzling plays at short earlier in the game and also displayed an unusually strong throwing arm, but it was her boot on Babb’s grounder in the ninth that set up Painter’s game-winning hit.
Red Bank returns to action with another home game on Thursday against CSAS.