04/13/06 — MOC softball - What a comeback

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MOC softball - What a comeback

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on April 13, 2006 2:07 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Lady Trojans heard the critics -- and they proved them wrong.

After losing the opener 13-1 to regionally ranked Francis Marion, Mount Olive rallied to score four runs in the final two innings of the nightcap to grab a 5-4 triumph in its regular-season finale Wednesday night at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. Pinch-runner Kat Cahoon eluded the catcher's tag with two outs to score the tying run in the bottom of the seventh on Bailey Harrell's sacrifice fly, and Melissa Bright came home with the winning run on a passed ball as Mount Olive rallied from an early three-run deficit.

"I'm so ecstatic we won tonight," said pitcher Shauna Cowdrey said, who pitched 61/3 strong innings and received a no decision in Game 2. "It's amazing. Everybody kept telling us, 'You guys are going to get slaughtered.' Now, I believe we can beat everybody. Everybody."

Until the sixth inning of the nightcap, Mount Olive (25-28) had mustered just six total hits in 12 innings against the Lady Patriots (25-12). Francis Marion ace Jessica Johnson scattered just three hits as the Pats erupted for 10 runs in the top of the seventh in Game 1.

Krystal Bourne (10-11) took the loss in the opener but threw fairly well, leaving after the sixth with Mount Olive trailing just 3-1. Rigil Gruca and Harrell were both 1-for-3 in the first game, while Tiffanie Pittman went 1-for-4.

Francis Marion scored one in the first and two more in the third off Cowdrey and the Trojans in the second game, but Georgette Richardson started Mount Olive's comeback with a solo home run off Serena Lim with one out in the fourth.

"We needed something to get a rally started," said Richardson, who was 2-for-3 with her fourth homer of the year in Game 2. "Once that happened, we were on her."

The Trojans finally KOed Lim in the sixth when Mount Olive tied the game on RBI singles by Gruca and Colleen Thomas as the visitors went back to Johnson.

After Francis Marion regained the lead with an unearned run in the top of the seventh, Pittman and Bright led off with hits that triggered Mount Olive's two-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

"We always pick ourselves up, no matter what," Bright said. "We always fight until the end. They're a regionally ranked team and we're not in the 10 -- this put us up there.

"This means we can beat anyone in our conference," she added.

Ermer (4-5) picked up the win after getting two outs in the top of the seventh. At the plate, Pittman was 2-for-4 while Jamie Pruitt was 1-for-2 with a walk that loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth.

"They all bounced back really well," Mount Olive coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham said. "They played relaxed, kept believing in themselves and it's exciting. It's a huge regional win for us -- they're in the Top 10, they're a phenomenal team. What a great way to go into our conference tournament."

Mount Olive's 25 wins is the most in a season since recording 35 wins in 2000.

The Trojans will have more than a week off, then will compete in the 2006 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Softball Tournament April 21-23 at Concord, hosted by Pfeiffer University.