If being down in the seventh inning is a scenario softball players dream of, Harnett Central is making dreams come true this year.
For the second straight game, the Trojans pulled out a come-from-behind victory in the seventh inning. Hayley Waddell’s bloop single – right behind the pitcher and in front of on-charging infielders – was the game-winner on Monday, bringing home Ally Swan from third base for a 6-5 victory against Lee County.
On Friday, the Trojans defeated Triton 7-4 after trailing 4-3 entering the final inning.
“I was just trying to get on base and get the run in,” Waddell said. “I thought she was going to catch it, honestly. But I knew that even if she did catch it we had another inning to go out there.”
The Monday night showdown was a battle between two of the state’s top softball teams at the 3A and 4A levels. Harnett Central (3-0), which fell in the third round in extra innings last season to eventual 4A champ D.H. Conley, and Lee County (1-1), the reigning 3A East runner-up, both have high hopes this year.
Lee County was undone by six errors.
“It’s a young season. We’ve got to get all phases of the game together, but I have confidence in them,” Lee County coach Miles McCaskill said. “They’ll learn from it.”
Harnett Central led 3-0 through three innings, tacking on a run in each stanza, and 4-1 after the fifth. But Lee County scored twice in the top of the sixth and seventh to take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The seventh inning including both eventual runs advancing on an infield fly rule that confused both sides.
Harnett Central had its No. 6 hitter, Kristen Taylor, at the plate. She walked and moved to second on a throwing error a few pitches later. Ally Swan, the No. 8 hitter, singled.
With two outs, leadoff batter Jordan Mangum singled home Taylor to tie it up, followed by Waddell’s short pop-up.
“They’re fighters. They want to win and they want to be out here and they’re showing up,” Harnett Central coach Lauren Taylor said.
They said it
“We never gave up. We always knew we could come back and win and our hits came in place when we needed them,” Harnett Central junior pitcher Searria Fisher said.
Three to know
Searria Fisher, Harnett Central: Returning N&O All-Metro pick struck out seven of the first 10 batters she faced and nine total. At the plate, she had an RBI double in the fifth inning.
Hayley Waddell, Harnett Central: Had two RBIs – a double in second inning and the walk-off hit.
Tessa Wilson, Lee County: Had three RBIs – on a sac fly in the fourth and a two-run double in the sixth – and was 2-4 at the plate.
By the numbers
1: RBIs apiece from Harnett Central’s Mangum, Fisher and Brittany Clark and Lee County’s Jacie Arrington and Whitney Sanford.
9: Strikeouts by Lee County’s Whitney Sanford (four earned runs allowed).
1: Hits from Lee County’s No. 6-9 hitters.
3: Hits from Harnett Central’s No. 6-9 hitters.