The Belton-Honea Path Bears got two complete game shutouts from Megan Vaughn, used timely hits, and took advantage of a big York error to take two games from the Cougars Wednesday night in York and win the District I championship.
The visitors had to beat York twice coming into the day to advance. They won by scores of 1-0 and 7-0. The Cougars’ season ends at 18-9.
“In the first game, they took advantage of an error that we had and scored a run,” York coach Will Jameson said. “Where we didn’t take advantage of errors that they made. I don’t think anybody has ever won a game scoring zero runs.”
Vaughn struck out 11 and had the eventual game-winning hit in the sixth inning to lead the Bears in game one and force a second and deciding game for a trip to the Upper State finals. She allowed six hits in game one and five in game two. She stayed down in the zone and didn’t walk a batter all night. Freshman Kaiden Quinn pitched well also for York in both games. In the first game, she struck out 12 and only allowed five hits. The one run was unearned. She gave up five hits in game two, struck out five more, and only walked one all night.
In the opener, the Cougars had two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning, but Vaughn struck out two in a row to escape the jam. The Bears finally struck in the sixth inning for the only run they would need. Maddy Jennings reached when a ball was dropped at first base to start the inning. McKinlee Kelly then dropped a double down the right field line to put two in scoring position.
Jameson felt like Kelly hit a good pitch.
“That one hit was a change up that had been working great for Kaiden, and the girl just poked it out there and got a hit,” Jameson said.
Quinn then induced two grounders to third. On the second one, Ally Morales cut down the runner at home. But with two outs, Vaughn lined a single to center to help herself and make it 1-0.
Bailey Wallace tripled to the fence in right for York with one out in the seventh, but Vaughn again struck out two straight to end the game. The Cougars were 0-for-4 in each game with runners in scoring position. Samantha Van Camp was 2-for-3 in the opener for York.
“All year we’ve answered, but the pitcher tonight kept us off-balance and stepped up when we got runners on,” Jameson said.
Things started wrong for York in the nightcap when the BHP leadoff hitter popped to shortstop but it was dropped, and the runner aggressively advanced to second base. With one out, Jennings’ single to right made it 1-0.
Carlee Shannon singled and stole second with one out in the York first inning, but again Vaughn struck out two straight. Bre Moss and Bailey Wallace singled in the second, but Vaughn got Kendall Dover to ground back to her to end the threat.
BHP effectively put it away in the third with two more on the board, and Jennings homered in the fourth for good measure. Quinn singled and reached second in the sixth, but in what sounds like a broken record, Vaughn retired two straight. The Bears tacked on three more in the seventh.
York’s softball program has come a long way in the three years that Jameson has been in charge. The year before his arrival, they were 4-7 and didn’t win a region game. The team progressed each year to 13-10, then 15-13, and this year at 18-9 after Wednesday’s games. The Cougars have finished 8-2 in Region 3-4A each of the last two years, won a playoff game last year, and two this year, while playing for a district title and trip to the Upper State finals. All during a time when their neighbor and rival Clover won a state title just two years ago. But Jameson doesn’t take all the credit.
“It’s all about what these girls are doing,” Jameson said. “Each year the leadership from each class has built and built, and we’re not gonna stop here. We’ve got a good junior class and a good sophomore class coming back. We’ve got a lot of talent here and the girls listen, and they do what we ask. We’ve got great facilities, and we’re supported by everybody.”