07/18/08 — Pate's safety-squeeze bunt caps late-game rally

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Pate's safety-squeeze bunt caps late-game rally

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 18, 2008 1:36 PM

WILSON -- Future stars shined bright on the Toisnot Park softball diamonds Thursday afternoon as the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional got underway.

Especially Wayne County.

The 10U Thunder claimed a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over perennial powerhouse Oviedo (Fla.) and earned some respect on the national youth scene.

"These girls work so hard, and they show that on the field," said Thunder coach Brent Marriner. "They never give up, and when they get ahead they never let up."

Oviedo grabbed the early lead.

Natalie Murphey led off the game with an infield single to third base and immediately swiped second. After a wild pitch moved Murphey to third, Laura Basen hit a slow roller up the middle to drive in the game's first run.

The initial mark would be all the Oveido offense would get.

Wayne County battled back in the third inning when Tori Hudson ripped a leadoff double. After one out, Shaily McCarty belted her second single of the game to forge a 1-1 tie.

One inning later, a walk spelled disaster for Oviedo.

Wayne County clean-up hitter Rachel McCollum drew a lead-off walk before stealing second base and taking third base on a wild pitch. Rylee Pate followed with a safety-squeeze sacrifice bunt, which allowed McCullom to score the game-winning run.

Oviedo put runners on base in both of the final two innings. The Florida All-Star team had the game-tying run at third with two outs, but McCullom forced an inning-ending, infield pop-up.

McCullom threw the final three innings to earn the mound win and extend the Thunder's win streak to nine games.

"This group ran through three games at districts, five more at states and now one at the regional," said Marriner. "They have been playing great, and I am really proud of them."

Wayne County plays at 5 p.m. today.