Mother still unbeaten against son in coaching duel
By DENNIS BRUNSON
Item Sports Editor
Momma still owns a perfect record against her son, but it wasn't quite as easy as the first time.
East Clarendon High School softball head coach Judy Coker made it 2-0 against her son, first-year Sumter High head coach Warren Coker, as the Lady Wolverines scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to pick up a 6-4 win on Wednesday at the SHS field.
When the two teams met last month in Turbeville, EC picked up a 9-1 victory in the first-ever softball meeting between mother and son. That led to Warren, who has coached against his mother as volleyball head coaches at their respective schools, receiving several e-mails from friends around the state offering some good-natured ribbing.
"It wasn't as easy for them tonight," said Warren Coker, whose Lady Gamecocks fell to 3-7 on the season. "It was a tough one to lose tonight. "That's the third time we've played a 9-inning game and it's the third one that we've lost."
Judy Coker said she didn't rub in the fact that her team beat Warren's team for the second-straight time.
"I just told him it came down to us getting those two big hits," said Judy Coker, who got a 2-out, 2-run triple from Kristan McElveen and a run-scoring double from Elizabeth Stone in the top of the ninth off of Sumter pitch Sutton Watson. "It was a well-played game; we just got the hits at the end."
The game was tied 3-3 after seven innings and neither team could score in the eighth. East Clarendon was denied a run when Sumter leftfielder Alex Cataldo threw out Kayla Carsten at home plate to end the inning following a single by Danielle Culick.
The teams used the International tiebreaker rule in the ninth, starting with a runner on second base. The Lady Wolverines had runners on first and third with two outs when McElveen delivered her triple. Stone followed with the double to make it 6-3 and Sumter could muster just one run in the bottom of the inning.
"You've got to give credit where credit is due," said Warren Coker. "They came through with the hits when they had to have them. They came out and won the game and came through in the clutch."
Judy Coker said her team came into the game feeling like it still had something to prove against Sumter since the Lady Gamecocks didn't have Watson, their No.1 pitcher, in the first meeting.
"The girls were excited coming in because they wanted to prove they could play with the bigger schools," East Clarendon's Coker said. "We didn't get rattled and we stayed focused."
Warren coached against his late father, Norman, who was the EC junior varsity coach when Warren was the Sumter junior varsity coach, and never lost to him.
"Mom's doing something daddy didn't do," he said.
The Cokers said that while they are aware of who is making the decisions for the other team, it still comes down to being a game between two teams.
"It was exciting and it was (a) nervous (time) too," said Judy Coker, who stated that she's used the same signs for 30 years, but has had to change them for the meetings against her son. "Both of us are trying to set our girls on fire. It's something that we've looked forward to for a long time. You get out there though and you're just trying to win the game."
"It feels different trying to face a parent, but it still comes down to trying to do things correctly and try to win the game," said Warren Coker. "I'm trying to coach my team and so is she."