Published: 12:00 AM, Sat Apr 21, 2012
Pair of Abby Harris homers lifts Jack Britt to softball win
Jack Britt center fielder Abby Harris, stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning with her team down a run and tried to tune out the situation.
"I really try not to think about the pressure," she said. "I just try to focus on hitting the ball."
And hit it, she did, sending an inside pitch well over the Colts' left-center field fence, scoring teammates Markell Wylie and Caitlin Mercier on a game-winning three-run homer in a 12-10 victory.
The win gave the Buccaneers (14-2, 8-2) sole possession of second place in the Mid-South 4-A Conference.
The Colts (14-5, 7-3) slipped out of their tie with Britt into third place.
Both teams have two conference games left, and Britt will end the regular season with a non-conference match against Richmond Senior before the start of the conference tournament.
The game-winning home run was one of two for Harris. The sophomore finished 4-for-5, scoring five runs and driving in four.
Despite Harris' stellar night, Cape Fear coach Jeff McPhail said he didn't consider intentionally walking her, especially with Britt pitcher McKenzie Weaver on deck.
Weaver leads the Bucs with a .490 batting average.
"The thought to walk her didn't even cross my mind," McPhail said. "I mean, if you put her on, then what happens? The next two batters probably get on."
Harris' home run marked the second time Britt had to regain the lead after holding an early 3-0 advantage at the end of 3 1/2
Cape Fear scored a lone run in the fourth to trail 4-1 before the Colts' bats heated up in the fifth.
Second baseman Brittany Freeman started the rally with a one-out, solo home run. Pitcher Beth Blackburn followed with a double and scored on Carly Green's single. Kaylee Carter and Natalie Jones hit back-to-back doubles to give the Colts their first lead at 5-4.
Cape Fear had another big inning in the sixth, scoring five runs for a 10-8 lead.
"It took us a few innings to get our bats going," McPhail said. "We put ourselves in the position of having to come from behind."
A key turn in the game came in the sixth inning when Blackburn, who pitches lefthanded and bats righty, was hit by a pitch by reliever Stephanie Thomas.
The pitch struck Blackburn on the right forearm. The junior exited the game and did not return, prompting the Colts to put sophomore Carly Green on the mound to pitch the seventh.
McPhail said he didn't think Green had pitched for the Colts since a scrimmage in February.
The coach said Blackburn was taken to the emergency room to be checked out, but he didn't have an update on her status.
Britt coach Sebrina Wilson said winning the game came down to fortitude.
"We made a few little mistakes here and there, but that happens in a game like this when the ball's being hit all over the place," Wilson said. "The key to winning this game was not giving up. This was a battle of attrition. It was an exhausting game to be in."
Jack Britt 12, Cape Fear 10
Weaver, Thomas (5), Weaver (6) and M. Mercier. Blackburn, Green (7) and Carter. W - Weaver (13-1). L - Green (0-1).
Leading hitters: JB - Harris 4-4 (2 HRs, 2B, 4 RBIs), Thomas 3-4 (run), Wyle 2-5 (2B, 2 RBIs); CF - Carter 4-4 (HR, 2B2 RBIs), Smith 1-5 (HR, 3 RBIs), Green 2-4 (2B, RBI)
Records: Jack Britt 14-2, 8-2; Cape Fear 14-5, 7-3
Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at 609-0651 or email@example.com.