The game’s final out, which resulted in a pop-fly with a runner on third, summed up the entire contest for Rock Hill, who fell 3-1 to Gaffney on Tuesday in the elimination contest of the Class-AAAA state playoffs at Rock Hill.
That out resulted in the 11th runner left on base for the Bearcats, including 10 which were left in scoring position at either second or third.
“During each of those opportunities, we had some of our best hitters at the plate,” Rock Hill coach Ron Brazzell said. “It just came down to our best hitters not being able to come through for us.”
A big reason for the wasted Rock Hill opportunities was Gaffney pitcher Olivia Henson, a freshman, who maintained control with six strikeouts while scattering seven hits. When facing the Rock Hill scoring threats, Henson said that she just focused on the plate and relied on clutch defense.
“I just kept hitting my spots, which were either on the inside or outside corners; I never wanted to put it straight down the plate,” Henson said. “And I also just relied on our defense to make plays,” during the tight situations.
Both Brazzell and Gaffney coach Kelly Ellis offered words of praise for Henson’s mound performance.
“She was on tonight,” Ellis said. “She pitched real well and defensively, we could not ask for a better game. It was one of those games where everything seemed to come together for us.”
Brazzell agreed, saying that the Indians pitcher kept his team out of rhythm at the plate.
“She got us to chase a lot of bad balls which were out of the strike zone.”
Rock Hill pitcher Macey Brazzell, who wound up a banner high school career with the elimination loss, was also masterful on the mound, yielding only six hits with eight strikeouts.
What hurt, however, was two unearned Gaffney runs in the top of the first, resulting from three errors. Henson led off with a bloop single and then advanced to second on a passed ball. Olivia O’Neal got aboard on a throwing error, putting runners on the corners.
O’Neal stole second, but the throw to second sailed into center field, resulting in a run and advancing the runner to third. Margaret Ann Queen laid down a sacrifice bunt, which allowed the O’Neal to score from third.
The Indians added an insurance run in the fifth. Queen reached on an infield hit, and went to second on an infield throwing error. That was followed with Rebecca Campbell belting a sharp RBI single to center field for the 3-0 lead.
Rock Hill had a golden chance in the bottom of the inning with the bases loaded and two outs. However, Henson got a sharp ground-ball out to end the threat.
The Bearcats avoided the shutout in the bottom of the seventh. Milaria Behena led off with a single and stole second. With two outs, Paige Love hit a deep fly which rolled near the fence and resulted in an RBI triple.
Macey Brazzell attempted to keep the rally alive with a bloop fly which at first, appeared to be headed toward short center field. However, Indians shortstop Rebecca Campbell came made a diving catch to end the contest.
Gaffney 3, Rock Hill 1
Pitchers (Gaffney) – Olivia Henson (7) and Ashelyn Wallace; (Rock Hill) – Macey Brazzell (7), and Alexis Ervin.
WP - Henson . LP – Brazzell. 2B – Alexis Ervin (RH). 3B – Paige Love (RH). Leading hitters - GHS: Rebecca Campbell 1-for-4 with 1 RBI; Margaret Ann Queen 2 hits and 1 run scored; Rock Hill: Alexis Ervin 2-for-4; Paige Love 2-for-4 with RBI; Milaria Behena 2-for-4 with run scored. Records – Gaffney: 12-9; Rock Hill: 11-6..