Fort Mill Times

Falcons, doomed by passed balls, fall in District finals

The Nation Ford softball team got a strong pitching performance against defending state champion Wren in the District I tournament finals, but fell 3-2 to the Hurricanes in eight innings last Thursday.

The Falcons (18-7) were unable to overcome three passed balls and three dropped third strikes that led to all three Wren runs.

"You can't give up three unearned runs to a team like that," Falcons Coach Michael Kidd said. "The girls came to play and that's the positive I can take out of it."

With the game tied at two in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wren (25-2) looked poised to win with a runner on third and one out. But Hannah Ingraham was cut down at home on a great throw by Nation Ford's Jessica Bonham.

The Falcons were plagued by two passed balls in the bottom of the eighth that gave up the game-winning run. Pinch runner Whitney Woodward moved to second on a walk by Chelsea Deneroy, and both runners moved up on a passed ball. Two batters later, Woodward slid across the plate after the ball squirted to the backstop again.

"That's very tough because we've been preaching all year not to make those kinds of mistakes," Kidd said. "We normally play the game and make the routine plays. We just can't put ourselves in predicaments like that. Those are mistakes that we can accept one. But to have several of them is not acceptable."

Wren got on the scoreboard first when Stephanie Saylors reached on an error, and pinch runner Hannah Lockaby was moved to third by consecutive sacrifices. Morgan Allison ripped a hit down the third base line to score Lockaby and give the Hurricanes a 1-0 first-inning lead.

Down 1-0, the Falcons struck back in the second with a huge two-out double by Heather Hammond. Makenzie Barbor drew a walk and advanced to second on an infield single by Lindsey Visbeck. Hammond hammered the ball to deep left-center field, scoring Barbor and Visbeck to give Nation Ford the lead.

The Hurricanes tied the game on another passed ball in the fifth inning after Clarissa Suttle moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Suttle came home to tie the game when the ball rolled to the backstop.

Hammond started on the mound and gave the Falcons four strong innings, surrendering one run on three hits. Freshman Bradlee Holeman pitched the final four innings, striking out seven Hurricanes while giving up two hits.

"Heather stepped up and did exactly what we felt like she would do, and I was proud of that," Kidd said. "She's a player that we've always been able to count on."