Monica Lane may be one of the smallest players on the Warren County High School softball team, but she came up with two of the biggest hits of the season thus far for the Lady Pioneers on Friday night.
Lane began a six-run rally for the Lady Pioneers with a solo home run, then capped it off with a two-run single as Warren County came from four runs down to defeat Forrest High School 7-6 in the Border Battle Tournament.
The Lady Pioneers looked lifeless when the fifth inning began Friday night in Lincoln County. Forrest controlled the first four innings and Warren County looked like it was heading to its sixth loss.
Lane wasn’t ready to give up the fight however. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, the star sophomore got hold of the next pitch, lifting it toward center field.
Forrest’s center fielder thought she had room to track it down, but she crashed into the fence as the ball sailed over her head. The shot sent the Lady Pioneer dugout into a frenzy, as well as coach David Upton, who greeted Lane as she rounded third with a big pat on the back.
The home run was just a small step however, as Warren County still trailed 5-2. Chelsea Cope, who celebrated her 17th birthday, continued the inning with an infield single. Lauren Crothers followed by drawing a walk.
Peytan Hall came up with two on and no outs and did exactly what her coach wanted. Hall hit a grounder toward first base, allowing the runners to advance. Instead of being satisfied with the sacrifice, Hall shifted into high gear. Forrest’s first baseman rushed her throw to try to get Hall and ended up sailing the ball into right field, allowing Cope to score.
Following a strikeout, Lindsey Rowland came up and hit to the same spot as Hall. Crothers, who had advanced to third on the wild throw, tried to score on the play, but was called out at home. Coach Upton protested the call as it looked like Crothers slid under the tag, but it did no good as the umpire upheld his decision.
The pressure fell on Sarah Jacobs, who came up with two runners on and two outs in a 5-3 game. On the first pitch to Jacobs, Rowland stole second, giving the Lady Pioneers two runners in scoring position.
Jacobs hit a hot shot to shortstop, but the grounder was fielded cleanly. Jacobs hustled out the play and when the high throw forced the first baseman to jump, the Lady Pioneers’ third baseman got her foot to the bag before the Forrest player could land.
Hall scored easily on the grounder, but Rowland was also able to sneak in as the Forrest players started to protest the call at first. The alert base running tied the game at 5-5.
Juniors Taylor Grissom and Morgan Frye followed with singles to load the bases, bringing the person who started the rally back to the plate.
Lane was able to deliver once again, as she floated a ball into no man’s land right behind second base. The ball landed safely in between Forrest’s center fielder, right fielder and second baseman. The single scored Jacobs and Grissom and gave Warren County a 7-5 lead.
Junior Gabi Keith was rejuvenated when she got in the circle to finish off Forrest in the bottom of the fifth. Keith ran into some trouble though when an error let one runner on with one out. It was followed by a single, giving Forrest the tying runs aboard.
Keith forced a lazy pop fly to second base to get the second out. She then worked to a 2-2 count against Forrest’s clean-up hitter. Keith painted the inside corner on what looked like the game-winning third strike, but the umpire didn’t agree. The pitch was called a ball, making the count full.
Forrest’s batter took advantage of the next pitch, rocketing a one-hopper off the left field fence. Rowland was able to track the ball down quickly and hit Lauren Wilkinson with a relay throw to keep Forrest from scoring both runners.
Keith didn’t seem phased by Forrest drawing within one with the tying run sitting at third base. She got the next batter to ground to shortstop and Wilkinson fired the ball across the infield to get the final out.
Coach Upton found himself right in the middle of a huge celebration on the field following the game. Afterwards, he talked about how big the win was to the team.
“It was one of the best wins I think I’ve been a part of in 11 years,” said Upton. “Our girls never lost hope, even though they had plenty of chances to quit.”
It was part of an impressive two-day run which saw Warren County go 3-1. The Lady Pioneers won Thursday against Moore County 2-1 with Wilkinson recording her second home run of the season with an inside-the-parker, then scoring the winning run in the seventh on a single by Jacobs. Keith pitched a complete game, earning her fifth win.
Warren County lost its night cap to Hazelgreen out of Alabama 8-6, but Wilkinson added to her home run total in the process. Wilkinson hit a shot over the fence in the second game, bringing her total to three.
The Lady Pioneers won their first game Friday against Grundy County 5-1, with Lane picking up her third win with a dominating performance.
Warren County concluded its Border Battle action yesterday with a single-elimination tournament. Results were unavailable at press time.
The Lady Pioneers play next on Tuesday night when they travel to Oakland. The first pitch in Murfreesboro is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.