YORK -- Coach Nickie Templeton knew when the 2009 softball season began that having to rely on so many ninth- and 10th-graders would be a work in progress -- which is precisely what happened when the York Comprehensive High School Lady Cougars struggled to find their identity.
With the losses mounting, Templeton was waiting for the light to come on. The wait is over.
The YCHS girls were aglow last week, winning three games in succession against solid opposition.
"With such a young team, I knew success wouldn't come quick," Templeton said after the Lady Cougars defeated Northwestern 4-3 in dramatic fashion. "But I didn't think it would take this long."
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Said Templeton of the team's newfound confidence, "The kids are coming together, and we are hitting the ball. The way the team is playing feels good."
Visiting Northwestern plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning, knotting the score at 3-all.
With the momentum shift favoring the Lady Trojans, the Lady Cougars went to work in the bottom of the inning.
After Tiffany Mefford singled, first-baseman Bethany Moorefield hit a long drive to right-center that the Northwestern center-fielder caught up with.
Logan Peterson, who had another strong mound performance, reached on an infield hit.
Catcher Brandi Neely hit a screaming liner that bounced off the third baseman's glove, loading the bases.
Ninth-grader Marion Peterson, Logan's cousin, stepped to the plate and drilled a single to right field, sending Mefford home with the winning run.
"It felt good," Peterson said of the winning hit. "I was confident at the plate but nervous because of the situation. It was a big win for us in the region."
Logan Peterson and Neely are sophomores with banner seasons to their credit last year.
"I was pleased with my pitching tonight except for Northwestern's three-run inning," Peterson said after the win over the Lady Trojans. "It was a big win for us. We're playing better as a team and building momentum."
Neely said Peterson threw the ball well in the seven-inning thriller.
"Logan's best pitch tonight was her outside fastball," commented Neely. "She was blowing it by the hitters."
Neely, the team's leading hitter last year, said she feels better about her hitting in recent games.
"I am making contact," she said. ""I feel better about the way the team is playing."
Peterson picked up another win on the mound as the Lady Cougars pounded Fort Mill, 7-1.
Ninth-grader Moorefield, a solid hitter all season, hammered Fort Mill pitching with a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate. She credits much of her success to repetitions at practice.
"I try to stay focused when I step to the plate," the YCHS first-baseman said.
Sophomore Michelle Goss made her presence felt at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance.
The YCHS girls defeated Chester 13-6, highlighted by a 10-run sixth inning.
Mefford had three hits, including a triple and home run. Winning pitcher Peterson also had three hits. Neely and Amber Hyatt each had two hits.
"We need to continue hitting the ball and play with confidence," Templeton said. "You never know what might happen."
York plays at Nation Ford Tuesday and will host rival Clover in the regular-season finale April 24.