Hailey Wood knew her hand, bruised and bloodied, would get to the plate quicker if she dove. So the senior put her body on the line, going head first into home trying to tie the game.
Everybody thought Wood had done it – except the umpire.
A blown call at the plate proved to be pivotal as Warren County was ultimately downed 7-6 in extra innings by visiting Coffee County.
Wood was called out to end the sixth inning, leaving the Lady Pioneers behind 5-4. Warren County rallied back with two outs in the seventh inning to send the game into an extra frame, but the Lady Raider prevailed late.
“Effort is great. The girls always play hard. It was great to see them come back from two runs down late,” said coach Gooby Martin. “Ultimately, we didn’t play good enough ball to beat a good team. Too many mental mistakes.
“I tip my cap to Coffee County. They had a lot of two-out base hits and scored a lot of runs.”
Warren County (3-3-1) held a 4-3 lead entering the sixth, but the Lady Raiders took the lead on Katie Rutledge’s two-run single. It was part of a 3-for-3 night for Rutledge, who ultimately scored the game-winning run in the extra innings.
Down 5-4, Wood started the sixth by reaching on an error. The speedy lead-off hitter quickly set her sights on second, taking off on the second pitch. The senior easily swiped the bag, but her hand was stepped on during the play, opening a gash near her thumb.
Undeterred, Wood moved to third on a groundout by Emily Mikkola. When Ashton Whiles hit another grounder, this time to third base, Wood was ready to run again.
Just as the ball was thrown to first, Wood darted home. Whiles was out at first, but the throw home looked high and late. Wood slid under the tag and looked to have her hand on the plate, but the umpire called her out to end the inning.
The call drew the ire of Martin and assistant Nick Cantrell, who both loudly protested the call at home before retiring to the dugout.
Kiya Ferrell made the comeback even more difficult, ripping an RBI triple in the seventh to give Coffee County a 6-4 advantage.
Warren County wouldn’t quit though.
Rhealee Johnson and Madison Hollis started the seventh with back-to-back singles. After a groundout, Elia Atterson loaded the bases with a single, sneaking a shot into short right field that landed between two Lady Raiders.
Martin called on freshman Shelby Roberts to pinch-hit, and the young Lady Pioneer delivered an RBI groundout to make it a one-run game. Senior Grace Rains came up with runners on second and third, but it looked like Coffee County had pulled out the win when Rains hit a slow roller back up the middle.
Keri Munn stumbled while making the back-handed play, then fumbled the ball before throwing to first. Rains easily beat the throw, allowing the tying run to score.
Wood had a chance to win the game in the seventh, but hitting with a heavily bandaged hand, the senior grounded out.
After falling behind again in the eighth, the Lady Pioneers got one last shot. Mikkola drew a lead-off walk and proceeded to move to third on back-to-back groundouts, putting the tying run 60 feet away.
Coffee County decided to intentionally walk Hollis to bring up MaKenna Mason. Mason battled to a 2-2 count, but her flare up the middle was snagged at second base for the final out.
Mikkola and Johnson led the Lady Pioneers with three hits apiece, while Atterson finished with two and Hollis added one.
Sadie Simmons took the loss for Warren County, entering in the seventh and giving up two runs on four hits. Hollis pitched the first six innings, giving up five runs on 12 hits.
The Lady Pioneers will try to get back on track Thursday with a home game against Shelbyville. Action is set to start at 5:30 p.m.