Pate scores game-winning run on seventh-inning error
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 14, 2008 2:55 PM
DUDLEY -- A missed sign.
An aggressive base-running play.
It's a matter of perspective.
Southern Wayne pinch-runner Brittany Pate ran through a stop sign at third base and beat out the throw at the plate. The seventh-inning run was all the Saints needed to eliminate Northern Vance 1-0 in their first-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A softball playoff game Tuesday evening.
"I told her after it was all over, that if she thought she could win the game right there, then she made a good decision," said Saints head coach Michael Wiggs. "We joked that nobody would know she over ran third base. All they would know is that she scored the winning run."
Locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel, the Saints had a hard time manufacturing scoring opportunities throughout the game.
"I have to give their pitcher a lot of credit. She kept our hitters off balance," said Wiggs. "We hit a lot of balls off the handle and swung at some bad pitches."
Lindsey Pearsall led of the seventh inning with a single and Pate replaced her as a courtesy runner. Pate stole second and scrambled around the bases as teammate Meredith Davis reached safely on an infield throwing error.
The errant throw rolled down the first-base line.
Pate kept running.
With Wiggs holding his hands high in the air, Pate rushed home and slid feet first over the plate as the Northern Vance catcher jumped to field the late throw.
"I said at the beginning of the season that this team had three keys -- staying patient, being smart on the bases and getting hits with runners in scoring position," said Wiggs. "We still need to work on all three, but being on the winning end of one of these games feels pretty good."
Pate's exciting gamble nearly overshadowed a strong pitching effort from Lauren Darden. The right-hander recorded a career-high 19 strikeouts and permitted three hits. She faced just 25 batters in the seven-inning contest.
"She is a gamer, flat out," said Wiggs. "This time of year she wants the ball in her hand, and that says a lot about her as a competitor."
Southern Wayne (20-6) returns to action Friday at West Brunswick.
"We would love to keep our home field advantage, but if not, then we have to travel and keep our heads up," said Wiggs. "You never know what can happen in these playoff games."
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