Down 1-0, the Summerville softball team scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 3-1 win over Clover in game one of the AAAA state softball championship series at Summerville on Monday night.
The Green Wave set a school-record with their 30th win of the season, against three losses, and will seek to win their first state championship with a game two win at Clover on Wednesday.
“These kinds of games, you find a way to win and these kids found a way to win tonight,” said Summerville coach Heather Tucker. “It was a hard game. Every second of the game, you just never knew what might happen and fortunately we found a way to pull it out.”
For Clover (21-11), the game was one of missed opportunities. The Blue Eagles had two hits in the top of the first but came away scoreless. Clover broke through with a run in the third, but could have had more.
After Blake Wallert singled to open the frame, Tiffany Domingue doubled to the fence in left with Wallert scoring from first base. Domingue advanced to third on the throw home, giving Clover three chances to plate a second run.
However, Summerville pitcher Summer Jenkins induced two infield pop ups and a grounder to end the threat with one run scoring.
“We always talk about having a quality at bat and I just didn’t feel we had enough quality at bats, especially with some opportunities out there on the bases,” said Clover coach Shea Hall. “We didn’t bunt people over. We let Summerville hang around and they’re too good. Hat’s off to Summerville, they got people on late and they drove them in.”
Summerville threatened in the fifth with a two-out double from Brady Rossa and a single by Anna Gluhosky but stranded both runners.
The Green Wave broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Catcher Taylor Belfiore opened the inning with her second safety of the day. Shortstop Sarah Windham laid down a sacrifice bunt but an errant throw put runners on the corners with no outs.
Pitcher Summer Jenkins followed with a double just inside the third base bag, scoring both runners for a 2-1 lead. After a sacrifice moved Jenkins to third, Victoria Norris laced an RBI single to right for a 3-1 lead.
“We were unable to get a clutch hit early in the game so it was nice to see us deliver in that inning,” said Tucker. “The kids want to hit the ball and want to do well so it gets frustrating. We just keep preaching to play the whole game, play seven innings. The hope is that by seeing the pitcher more and more, it gives you more of a chance.”
Clover again had its chances in the top of the seventh. Micah Sherwood reached on an error and then beat Windham’s throw to second on Wallert’s grounder to short. Domingue hit into a fielder’s choice and with runners on the corners, Marisa Harkey coaxed a walk from Jenkins, her first of the game.
With the bases loaded, Jenkins responded with a strikeout of Shania Dominigue and ended the game with a grounder to second.
“I would say these two teams are very much alike,” said Tucker. “Both teams are good defensively, have a good pitcher, and have a pretty good lineup one through nine. It’s not over yet. We have to be focused and expect it will be another tough game on Wednesday night.”