RICHBURG — Splayed on the ground, Lewisville senior Logan Miller was a tad stunned. She had the wind knocked out of her and a mouthful of softball diamond dirt, but she’d also safely slid home to give the Lions a 3-2 win over Fox Creek in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night.
Miller’s late run completed a comeback from down 2-0 for the host Lions (26-3), who advance to the Class A Upper State championship Friday at Dixie, beginning at 5:30 p.m. If Miller was shell-shocked, the Fox Creek dugout was even more so after coughing up an early lead against Lewisville for the fourth time this season.
“Four games, it’s been the same way. We’ve come back each time and been able to take the game back over. I think they just felt the pressure of it,” said Lewisville coach Jerry Thomas. “They’re a good team; we just forced them into some plays and it worked out in our advantage.”
It all went wrong for the visiting Predators (21-8) in the bottom of the sixth. Dee Ealey led off with a single for Lewisville, and Tamiya Davis followed with a hard-hit shot to centerfield. The Predators’ fielder booted the ball rolling toward her, allowing Ealey to take third, then made an ill-advised throw toward the plate, enabling Ealey to score to tie the game 2-2.
Haley Love reached on a fielder’s choice as the fielder tried to hold Davis at third, and then took second when the pitcher wasn’t looking. The Lions ended up loading the bases, only to strand three runners. At some point a Fox Creek fan made a derogatory comment toward the umpire and was led away by the sheriff’s deputy working the game. The fan was arrested in the parking lot after further resistance.
Fox Creek’s collective blood pressure continued to shoot skyward in the top of the seventh.
Harley Muniz led off with a single, and Christy Buist followed with a rip to short. Muniz was forced out at second, except she never left first. Buist and Muniz ended up on the same base and when the ball was thrown to first, both Predators players were ruled out. Great debate ensued, led by Fox Creek coach David Bell.
Afterward, he wouldn’t say much about the incident, or the game.
“They’re a great team,” he said. “I don’t want to say anything else because I’ll get myself in trouble.”
Then, Lewisville pitcher Chloe Thomas, an eighth-grader who pitched a gem – allowing just three hits and fanning eight – struck out Erin Harrison to end the inning.
“Huge for an eighth grader to come in with that pressure and do a job,” Jerry Thomas said about his pitcher.
That left the hosts needing a single run to win the game and prolong their season. Miller led off with a double drilled into left field. Autumn Jordan followed with a bunt straight to Harrison on the first base line and was tagged out. But Harrison’s throw to third to get Miller flew into the outfield, allowing the runner to score and win the game for the Lions.
“I hadn’t been hitting all night and it was nice to show them that we’re still in this game,” Miller said. “They’re not knocking us out this year, like last year.”
While Miller’s double made scoring easier for the Lions, it was fitting that a bunt produced the final run. Lewisville scored its first run of the game, in the second inning, on a perfect suicide squeeze by Chloe Thomas. Simply putting the ball in play paid off in the bottom of the seventh for the Lions.
“Bunting is definitely one of our strong-suits,” said Miller. “We always seem to lay it down when we need to.”
When the ball flew into the outfield after Jordan’s sacrifice bunt, everyone at the ball park knew the Lions would win, except Miller, who wasn’t looking. She didn’t find out until she was flat on her back in the batter’s box, having slid to avoid a late tag. The celebration, at least immediately, was muted.
“I was trying to get my breath back, because I tripped, I swallowed dirt and I was just like ‘thank God,’ because I thought I was out because she was standing there blocking the base,” said Miller, still a little breathless. “Then I heard Autumn, and she ended up on top of me, and I don’t even know.”
WP- Chloe Thomas; LP- Jada Simpson. Fox Creek: Harley Muniz 1-2; Christy Buist 1-2. Lewisville: Tamiya Davis 2-2; Jamie Colvin 2-2; Chloe Thomas 0-1, RBI; Logan Miller 1-3, 2B.
Records: Fox Creek 21-8; Lewisville 26-3.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T