Katie Robinson’s three-run home run capped a four-run rally in the top of the eighth inning and the Clover Blue Eagles defeated the Northwestern Trojans 7-3 in the Class AAAA Upper State softball playoffs Tuesday night at Northwestern.
Robinson’s home run was her first of the year, and it broke up a pitchers’ duel between Clover’s Elizabeth Edmunds and Northwestern’s Kori Wancheck.
Brooke Rhinehardt opened the decisive inning with a single and moved up on a sacrifice by Blake Wallert. Marisa Harkey’s single drove in Rhinehardt. Shanin Domingue followed with a single, and Robinson unloaded her home run.
“What a timely hit for us,” said Clover coach Shea Hall. “She was injured and out early in the year. I was not sure when we would get her back.”
The win sends Clover on the road against Mauldin, a 4-2 loser to Byrnes, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tuesday’s loss ended Northwestern’s season.
Northwestern opened the scoring in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Rachel Marion’s single and Cassie Wancheck’s double gave the Trojans the lead.
Northwestern made it 3-0 with a pair of runs in the fourth. A pair of Clover errors and Tiana Lewter’s double accounted for the runs.
The Blue Eagles cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth. Robinson’s double opened the inning. She scored on a double by Brittany Rhinehardt.
Clover tied the contest in the sixth. Wallert reached on an error and Harkey’s home run to left knotted the score at 3-3.
Edmunds picked up the win. She scattered five hits and struck out three. Wancheck took the loss. She allowed nine hits and struck out nine.
“This was a team win for us,” said Hall, whose team beat Northwestern for the first time in three tries this season. “Elizabeth gutted it out on the mound, and we battled back to tie the game. That gave us some confidence.”
The loss was a tough one for the Trojans, who won both the region and district championships.
“I told the girls to be proud of their season. This team has been a family,” said Northwestern coach Bryan Smith. “We played together and accomplished a lot this year. The future looks very bright for our program.”
Clover 7, Northwestern 3 (8)
Elizabeth Edmunds and Brooke Rhinehardt; Kori Wancheck and Rachel Marion. WP - Edmunds. LP - Wancheck. 2B - Brittany Rhinehardt, Katie Robinson (2) (C), Tiana Lewter (N). HR - Marisa Harkey, Katie Robinson (C).
Leading hitters: Clover - Marisa Harkey 3-4, 2 RBI, Katie Robinson 3-4, 3 RBI; Northwestern - Daina Chase 2-4, Tiana Lewter 1-3, RBI.
Records: Clover 24-7, Northwestern 20-3