That’s the only word to describe Kosciusko‘s victory over North Pike Saturday in the decisive game of the 4A state championship series. It is the Lady Whippets’ second state softball title.
Down 6-1 going to the bottom of the seventh — and down to their last strike at one point — the Lady Whippets scored five runs to force a extra inning. Down 9-6 going to the bottom of the eighth, Kosciusko scored four runs, taking the 10-9 victory.
Gracie Williams delivered the winning hit, a soft liner over the head of shortstop Kaylea Wagner. With Coach Tony Terry windmilling his arm in the coaching box, K.C. Schuler motored around third and easily beat the throw to the plate from center fielder Joli Spears, setting off a wild celebration by the Lady Whippets.
It was reminiscent of a Game 1 victory in Kosciusko’s only previous state championship, a sweep of Lawrence Country.
“In 2018, we were down 7-1,” Terry said. “Scored six and won 9-7 in nine innings.”
An emotional Williams had trouble speaking after the game.
“I was just trying to get a base hit... I’m overwelmed,” she said.
Softball rules put a runner at second base to start each half inning in extra innings. That was Alexandra West for Kosciusko, bringing up the top of the order.
Kelly Hood was hit by a pitch. Campbell Blaine singled in a run. A sacrifice fly by Mary Kimble Price made it 9-8. Schuler was hit and Makynlee Dickerson singled Blaine home with the tying run and sent Schuler to second, setting up Williams’ game winner.
“We just don’t give up. We don’t quit,” Terry said.
The Lady Whippets put together six hits, all singles, in the seventh. The eight and nine batters in the lineup, Emma Rush and West started the rally, each going the opposite way to right. Blaine, Price, Dickerson and Williams each had a hit.
With the bases loaded, two outs, and the Lady Whippets down 6-5, Rush hit a slow bouncer toward short. Wagner attempted to get a force at third, but Meredith Bates could not handle the low throw as Dickerson scored the tying run.
Kosciusko is 4-0 while facing elimination. The Lady Whippets dropped the opener to West Lauderdale in the North State final, then went on the road and swept a doubleheader.
North Pike won the first game 9-5 Thursday, but Kosciusko rebounded with a 12-7 win on Friday.
Kosciusko scored 27 runs on 41 hits in the three games, despite being blanked the first three innings in all three games. “Our whole lineup can swing,” Terry said.
Price had a complete game victory in Game 2 and won Game 3 in relief.
North Pike had 17 extra base hits in the series, including five home runs. A two-run homer by Emilie Williams in the top of the eighth gave the Lady Jags a short-lived three-run lead.
Sonya Williams has been North Pike coach for 26 years with two championships, including a sweep of Kosciusko in 2017.
Was this her toughest loss ever?
“I think so,” she said.
The series was played at the USM softball complex, as was Kosciusko’s 2018 victory.
Stay with The Star-Herald online and in print this week, as we provide more in-depth coverage of this historic win for the Lady Whippets.