07/24/12 — Wayne County 8U softball team takes 5th in SE Regional

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Wayne County 8U softball team takes 5th in SE Regional

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 24, 2012 1:48 PM

Fifth overall in the Southeast?

TJ Smothers will gladly accept the accolade.

And he, along with his Wayne County 8-Under All-Star softball team, won't soon forget how it all transpired during a two-town journey on a soggy weekend.

Wayne County (11-3 overall) opened the double-elimination portion of the 2012 Babe Ruth Softball Southeast Regional in Winterville on Friday. Oviedo (Fla.) jumped out to a 6-0 lead after 1/2 inning of play.

Smothers' team pulled within 7-6 after five innings and put the game-tying run on second base with one out in the sixth. Oviedo made the key defensive plays and squeezed out the one-run decision.

Tinsley Moore and Alyssa Smothers each batted 3-for-4. Ellie Jones and Kayley Merritt supplied two hits apiece.

"(I'm) proud of the way we came back," coach Smothers said. "We kept chipping away, just couldn't get the big hit that we needed. (That) seemed to be the story of the week. We didn't hit the ball like we did at state."

Wayne County returned Saturday morning to face Shenandoah (Va.), which handed it a mercy-rule loss on Thursday afternoon. Shenandoah plated three first-inning runs -- all unearned.

Ominous clouds formed in the distance, thunder rumbled and rain was certain to follow. Smothers' team forged a 3-3 tie through two innings and grabbed a 4-3 advantage in the third.

"We were up 4-3, had runners on second and third and Alyssa's shot to left field was gloved by their left fielder," Smothers said. "That would have put us up by three. There were some very good defensive plays by both teams."

Shenandoah tied it at 4-all and the clouds opened up.

After several delays, tournament workers had done their best to make the water-logged field playable.

The teams went back out and Wayne County turned in a pair of remarkable defensive plays in the fifth inning. Mackenzie Amodeo snagged a line drive at third base and Charlie Montgomery recorded an unassisted double play to silence a Shenandoah rally.

Still deadlocked at 4-4, a Shenandoah hitter eventually reached third on a controversial fair/four call down the third-base line. The next batter lined a shot to Kaitlyn Smith, who doubled up the runner at third to keep the score tied.

Shenandoah grounded out to pitcher Alyssa Smothers to end the sixth and send the game into extra innings.

Heavy rains flooded the field with Wayne County at-bat.

With two outs, tournament officials suspended play and the teams endured a four-hour delay. Field conditions became unplayable and the teams were sent to Tarboro to finish the consolation-bracket affair.

When play resumed -- again -- Wayne County put the go-ahead runner at second with two outs.

"(But we) couldn't get the big hit to score her," coach Smothers said.

Shenandoah prevailed 5-4 in the seventh and Wayne County gladly accepted its fifth-place effort in the 13-team regional.

"That's a tough way to go out, especially knowing that we didn't hit like we can, but that's why you play the game," Smothers said. "I'm proud of my girls. (It's) a very good learning experience for all of them and winning a state championship is something they will remember for the rest of their lives."