07/19/12 — Southeast Regional: Wayne County 8Us rally in 5th, 6th innings to defeat Washington

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Southeast Regional: Wayne County 8Us rally in 5th, 6th innings to defeat Washington

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 19, 2012 1:50 PM

WINTERVILLE -- Their backs turned toward their parents and sweat streaming down their faces, the Wayne County North's softball players huddled around their three coaches in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Head coach TJ Smothers spoke calmly.


Take a deep breath.

Be selfish and everybody get a hit.

They followed their coach's advice.

Wayne County erupted for nine runs, added two more in the sixth inning and captured a come-from-behind, 13-12 victory over Washington in opening-round play of the 2012 Babe Ruth Softball 8-Under Southeast Regional on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm hoping that's our bad game," Smothers said. "Sometimes you have to win ugly ones."

Wayne County faced Shenandoah (Va.) at 1 p.m. today and Andalusia (Ala.) at 9 p.m. in the four-team South Division pool. The 13-team field is broken down into three divisions, and the top two finishers advance to the six-team, double-elimination portion of the regional, which begins Friday.

"I could see nerves, but I really don't think that is what it was," Smothers said. "We definitely didn't hit the ball like we've capable of (since the state tournament). They (Washington) gave us our best game last week."

Washington dropped a one-run decision to Wayne County in the Eastern N.C. State tournament a week ago in Laurinburg, and looked poised to avenge the loss.

Smothers' team struggled to hit against the slow-throwing pitching machine and endured three consecutive scoreless innings after grabbing a 2-1 lead in the first. Wayne County faced its biggest deficit, 9-2, when Washington tacked on a run in the top of the fifth inning.

Red-faced from frustration, the girls met their coaches outside the dugout after they logged the final out of the inning.

"I'm not going to blame things on the pitching machine because that sounds like an excuse," Smothers said. "It was set on 28 miles per hour instead of 36, and it took us about four innings to get used to it."

Lead-off batter Tinsley Moore ignited the game-tying, fifth-inning uprising with a single. Alyssa Smothers followed with a base knock and Airal Pearce, who celebrated her ninth birthday, recorded the first of her two RBI during the inning.

After an out, Wayne County (10-0 overall) strung together five consecutive base knocks from pinch-hitter Charlie Montgomery, Ellie Jones, Camryn Ryan, Kaitlyn Smith and Le'Onna Nelson. Nelson's two-RBI single closed the gap to 11-10.

Pearce plated Moore with a game-tying, RBI groundout.

Washington forged back ahead, 12-11, in the sixth.

Mackenzie Amodeo started the Wayne County sixth with a double and raced home on Ryan's single. Smith followed with a base hit, aggressively took second base and coerced the Washington defense into a bad throw.

Ryan scored on the error and Smothers threw both hands into the air in celebration as she crossed the plate.

"With all the things we had to battle through, I'm really proud of my girls," Smothers said.