The only way to write a better ending to the Lady Pioneers postseason championship game would have been with a win.
Warren County Middle School matched up with the only team which had beaten the Lady Pioneers this season, Coffee County.
With a double-elimination tournament Coffee County, fighting from the loser’s bracket, would have to overcome long odds to wrestle the championship away from the Lady Pioneers.
WCMS coach Rodney Whiles said, “I am very happy with my team. They have had an amazing year and Coffee County is just that one team that has our number. We wanted first place and we came up one game short.”
In the final game, it took an extra three innings for the Lady Red Raiders to escape with the win by a final score of 7-6 to end the Lady Pioneers season one win short of a tournament championship.
A total of three extra innings were needed after a winner could not be decided in the first five innings. At the end of five innings, the two teams were deadlocked 4-4.
In the top of the sixth, Lady Pioneer MaKenna Mason singled for a lead-off hit. Back-to-back outs followed the single by Mason and the Lady Pioneers had one on with two outs. Hailey Wood singled for the second base hit of the extra inning but it was short lived. The next batter followed up with out three and WCMS left two stranded.
In the bottom of the sixth, Coffee County went three up, three down, but not without a close scare at third base, and the Lady Pioneers were out of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, WCMS started off hot and Emily Mikkola led off with a single for the first runner aboard for the Lady Pioneers. Bri Young hit a line-drive base hit to left center field and WCMS had runners in scoring position.
Marah Wannamaker blasted a shot to shortstop and drove in the go-ahead run for a 5-4 lead and moved Young over to third. Grace Rains then hit a fly-ball to right field that dropped for another WCMS hit and Young scored to go up 6-4 and the WCMS fans in attendance were on their feet. The next two batters went down on fly balls for outs two and three to end the inning and the Lady Pioneers led 6-4, but the Lady Red Raiders would have the final at-bat.
Coffee County drew a lead-off walk and then a hard hit ball to second base went over to first base for out one, but the runner advanced to second. A double to the fence on Coffee County’s next bat sent the runner home from second and it was 6-5 with one out and another runner in scoring position for Coffee County.
A hard-hit ball for a single scored another run for Coffee County and the game was locked at 6-6. This time it was the Lady Raider fans showing their team appreciation. WCMS responded and picked up the next two outs to end the rally by Coffee County and the score was tied 6-6 after seven complete innings.
In the top of the eighth, a runner is automatically placed on second base to start the inning. WCMS was not able to move her over and the Lady Pioneers picked up two very quick outs. Ashton Whiles drew a walk and WCMS had runners at each corner but that would be all they would get. The inning ended on a well-hit ball to left field that hung in the air just a little too long and the Lady Raider defender caught the ball to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Coffee County started with a runner on second base and the first batter took a wild pitch and advanced the runner quickly to third with no outs. The following batter drew a walk and immediately stole second base and Coffee County had a runner at second and third with no outs. The next batter was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded.
In a strange turn of events a ball was hit in the direction of Wanamaker at first. She made the grab and dove on first base immediately to catch the runner that was on her way to second and gave WCMS two outs. The ball was then thrown to home just in case the ball was ruled dropped. After a lengthy discussion between the two umpires, the ball was ruled caught and Warren County went from no outs, to two outs in one play.
With runners still on second and third base the following batter hit a ground ball in the hole for a single and scored the winning run from third base and Coffee County defeated WCMS 7-6 in a heart-breaking loss for the Lady Pioneers.
In the first game, Coffee County defeated Warren County by a final score of 10-6. The Lady Pioneers had no trouble putting runs on the board in the first game, it was stopping Coffee County from posting runs. A couple of critical mistakes early cost WCMS.
At the end of the first inning both teams were on the scoreboard and locked in a 1-1 tie.
Fast forward to the end of the second inning the two teams were locked in a 5-5 tie. You could not have had two more evenly matched teams on the field for a championship game.
Coffee County continued to hit the ball in the top of the third and the Lady Raiders pounded out five more runs and took a commanding 10-5 lead.
The Lady Pioneers responded but not until the fourth and then only produced one more run for the remainder of the game and in the first championship game WCMS was defeated 10-6.
Said coach Whiles, “We had some mistakes early that allowed Coffee County to stay in the game and down the stretch those girls just hit the ball better than we did in the first game.”
WCMS Lady Pioneers finished with a second-place finish in the tournament and a first-place finish in the season.