COLUMBIA – Sydney Jarecki’s 2-run, first-inning home run Wednesday gave Wilson Hall an early boost in the deciding game of the SCISA 3A softball state championship series on …
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COLUMBIA – Sydney Jarecki’s 2-run, first-inning home run Wednesday gave Wilson Hall an early boost in the deciding game of the SCISA 3A softball state championship series on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Lady Barons, any other runs were hard to come by at the University of South Carolina’s Beckham Field.
Cardinal Newman picked up three runs in the bottom half of the first, then bombed the defending champion Barons in a 7-run, 7-hit third en route to a 15-4 victory and the state championship.
“The story to this game is absolutely simple,” WH head coach Teresa Alexander said. “They absolutely crushed the ball tonight. It’s a great hitting team. They just got it going, they hit it hard and hit it in holes and you can’t defend that.”
Wilson Hall, which finished the year with a 12-17 record, bested the Cardinals 4-2 on Monday. However, it fell 7-0 on Tuesday to force the deciding game.
“We wanted to be aggressive, not passive,” said Lady Cardinals head coach Dwayne Jones, whose team finished with a 23-4 record and avenged its loss to WH in last year’s title series. “I thought in the first game it was like we were playing not to lose. Yesterday and today we came out with an aggressive mentality at the plate. We were playing to win and it made a huge difference for us.”
Jasmine Hogan homered and went 3-4, in addition to making three sensational centerfield catches. M.K. Gillespie went 3-for-3 with two doubles.
Jarecki got the Lady Barons on the scoreboard with the 2-run homer, but Cardinal Newman got three runs on a hit and two Wilson Hall errors in the bottom of that frame. Gillespie scored on Hannah Bostic’s 1-out double, and Maddie Dinkins got Carston Puckett and Bostic home on a 3-base fielding error in rightfield.
After Hogan’s sensational catch of a would-be RBI single blanked Wilson Hall in the second, she came up to bat and swatted a 0-1 pitch over the fence in leftfield for a solo homer to make it 4-2.
Once Wilson Hall stranded three base runners in the top of the third, the Lady Cardinals got to bat and got hot in the bottom of the inning.
Gillespie hit a bases-clearing double, and Dinkins had a 2-run double in a 7-run bombing that gave the Cardinals an 11-2 advantage.
Four more runs in the fourth closed the door on the Barons, who got two runs in the top of the fifth before Cardinal Newman clinched the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
“We ended the night with 10 hits, and when you’re facing a good pitcher, that’s a lot of success on offense,” Alexander said. “There were a couple of chances where we had a chance to knock in a couple of runs, but we couldn’t.”
Wilson Hall stranded 10 baserunners on the night.
While the Lady Cardinals banged out 14 hits over four innings, Jones noted starting pitcher Carston Puckett and the team’s defensive effort.
“She pitched 21 innings on Saturday to get us here, and then pitched three consecutive games on Monday Tuesday Wednesday,” Jones said. “She was just a gladiator. Jasmine made an awesome catch in centerfield (in the second inning) and Kaitlynn Greenwood played a phenomenal shortstop for us all season.”
Since winning the state championship last year but losing five seniors from that team, Alexander said she projected that this was to be a rebuilding season. Add to that the loss of juniors Madison Elmore and Madison Sliwonik to injury early in the season, and Alexander said that credit goes to seniors Caitleigh Bryant and Jarecki for taking a young Barons team so deep into the postseason.
“We’ve called ourselves the Cinderella team this year,” Alexander said. “We brought up three eighth-graders, I’ve got seven kids on my roster that have never played varsity softball.”
The Barons took their licks at the beginning of the year, but the plan was to improve and grow, Alexander said. A big part of that growth had to do with the work of Bryant and Jarecki.
“Wheat you’re seeing is not the sadness of losing the game,” Alexander said after the team’s tearful meeting along the first base line. “It’s the hardness in saying goodbye to two senior leaders who have been absolutely phenomenal for us. Most kids who are given a senior season that was set up for defeat would have hung their heads and pouted. These seniors wanted to leave a legacy, and it’s so strong that it carried this group into the state championship series.”
Andie Grae Wingate and Bryant both had two hits. Dani Hanley had a double.
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