The Union County Yellow Jackets softball team used two big innings to beat Nation Ford 12-8 on Wednesday.
The Yellow Jackets scored four in the sixth inning and three in the seventh in the back-and-forth battle between the teams.
“We lost focus,” said Nation Ford coach Michael Kidd. “It was a focus issue. We made a couple mistakes and you need to be able to overcome those mistakes, but we didn’t.
“Defensively, we couldn’t match them run for run with the mistakes we made. If we didn’t make those mistakes than it’s a different ball game, there is no doubt. We just played out of character.”
Union County, ranked second in the state in 3A, had already earned a 3-2 win over Nation Ford earlier in the season, but this time its bats really came alive late.
Both teams cruised through the first two innings, giving up the occasional hit, but never really threatening.
Union County struck first in the top of the third after a single by centerfielder Cece Moorman, catcher Ashley Vinson slugged a home run over the left center field wall giving the Jackets a 2-0 lead.
The Falcons rallied in the bottom of the inning with four runs as catcher Bre Tremblay led off with a single to right field. Pinch runner Sabrina Johnson scored on a throwing error by Union County pitcher Hannah Sailors trying to get an out at first.
Right fielder Autumn Mitchell, who reached on the error, scored on a sac fly by leadoff hitter Darby Trull to tie the game.
Left fielder Carolyn Thompson singled and was driven home by first baseman Brooke McCurry, giving the Falcons the lead. Nation Ford added another run in the inning on a passed ball.
Union County third baseman Clarissa Hughes got a run right back by leading the fourth inning off with a solo home run to centerfield.
Back-to-back errors by Nation Ford and a double by Yellow Jackets’ shortstop Dexlie Inman tied the game at 4-4. Moorman then gave the Jackets the lead again on a sacrifice.
As much as errors hurt the Falcons it also helped them as two throwing errors in the fourth inning allowed both third baseman Kelsie Kidd and Mitchell to score giving Nation Ford the lead again. Thompson then doubled in Trull who reached on an error, as the Falcons went up 7-5.
Union County threatened in the fifth, but starting pitcher Ashton Irvin pitched her way out of a jam after allowing a single and hitting Hughes, who homered earlier.
However, Irvin got in real trouble in the sixth walking the first two batters for Union County.
A passed ball and an RBI single by Sailors tied the game at 7-7. Another walk by Irvin brought McCurry in to relieve.
Irvin allowed nine hits in five and a third innings of work. She also allowed nine runs, but only four of them earned as she dropped to 0-1 on the season.
Hughes came up big for Union County again this time with a two run single to give the Jackets the lead again, this time for good.
After a hitless sixth from Nation Ford, the first two batters for Union County batters reached base in the top of the seventh. That set up Vinson's base clearing double to add to the Jackets lead. Vinson later scored on another Falcons error.
Nation Ford added a run in the bottom of the seventh on a Kidd single, but failed to add any more runs.
Union County 12, Nation Ford 8
Hannah Sailors and Ashley Vinson (UC); Ashton Irvin, Brooke McCurry (6) and Bre Tremblay (NF).W – Sailors, L – Irvin. 2B – Dexlie Inman 2 (UC), Carolyn Thompson (NF). HR – Ashley Vinson (UC), Clarissa Hughes (UC). LOB: Union County 9, Nation Ford 4. Leading hitters: Nation Ford – Carolyn Thompson 3-4 2B, RBI; Kelsie Kidd 2-4, Jordyn Williams 2-4.
Records: Union County 8-2, Nation Ford 7-4.