Sumter softball team edges Hartsville 2-1 Monday, March 30, 2009 at 08:43
Halfway through the Region VI-4A schedule, the Sumter High School varsity softball team is right where it wants to be — on top.
The Lady Gamecocks mounted a one-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, posting two runs, to come away with a 2-1 victory on Friday at the Sumter softball field.
Sumter improved to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in region play, while Hartsville dropped to 7-5 overall and 3-2 in the region. Sumter and Hartsville were tied with South Florence going into Friday's showdown, and Sumter maintained a share of the lead with the dramatic win.
South Florence kept pace with Sumter with a 5-1 win over West Florence on Friday, but Sumter head coach Warren Coker said he'd take it.
"Nobody can take us out of that spot the first round through," said Coker, who admitted to a touch of nerves before the game with first place on the line. "It was a fun game to coach, but it was also nerve-wracking.
"I'm proud of the kids," he said. "They never gave up. Those two errors really hurt Hartsville, but you know what? I'll take them. I'll take a win any way I can get one."
Sutton Watson was all but untouchable in the circle. The sophomore slinger went the distance for the win, striking out 16 of the 26 batters she faced. She struck out the side in the second, fifth and seventh innings and gave up one earned run on three hits and one walk.
Hartsville's Skylar Pate singled in the sixth and went to second on an error in leftfield and scored on an RBI 4triple by Michael Gainey to make it 1-0, but that was all the damage the Red Foxes would do against Watson.
"She was on, and they were struggling to touch her," Coker said. "They got those two hits in the sixth inning, and that's about all she gave up tonight."
Nobody had a better view of Watson's performance than catcher Morgan Mixon, whose walk-off RBI-single with one out in the seventh plated Anna Ortmann to give Sumter the victory.
Mixon said she was determined to come through in the clutch after the way the defense played.
"I really wanted to get No. 1 in the region for the team," Mixon said. "The defense was amazing tonight, amazing. Sutton was great, and I just went up there and said, 'I know I'm going to hit this ball,' and I did."
Emily Whetsel drove in the other Sumter run to tie the game at 1-1 moments earlier when she plated Kaila Wrighten, who had reached on an error and moved into scoring position when she beat out a throw on a fielder's choice by Ortmann.
Ortmann went to third on Whetsel's single, and Whetsel went to second on the throw to third. Erin Cook drew a walk on four pitches from Jones, and Mixon jumped on the first pitch she saw for the game winner.
"She's been flexing a lot for us this year, and she's going to be flexing more for us," Coker said of Whetsel's hitting role. "We were without Courtney Buckner, but Kaila stepped in and did a good job on third base. Emily stepped in and did her job, and she put the bat on the ball well."