The Rebels lost to Chapin 6-2, but in the end, the result simply wasn't the most important part of Wednesday's game-it was the tribute.
The team retired the No. 2 worn by former player Danielle Sutphin, nearly a year after a car accident ended her life, just days before graduating high school.
The team presented her mother, Gayle Sutphin, with a framed jersey in a pregame ceremony. Sutphin was joined on the field by her daughter's teammates - most of whom were crying throughout the tribute that included the hanging of a banner on the fence in left field.
Sutphin was the Rebels' left-fielder.
On the banner, the words “In memory of Deuce” wrapped around a softball that had Sutphin's No. 2 inside.
“She loved softball, she loved these girls, and she loved her number two,” Gayle Sutphin said during the ceremony.
The current Mid-Carolina players had Sutphin's No. 2 on their eye black and on stickers they put on their helmets. They ended every huddle in the game by yelling “1-2-3 Deuce.”
“It was kind of an emotional night for us,” Mid-Carolina coach Terry Murphy said. “You hear people say that time heals all wounds, but I don't know that it ever heals. Time helps us understand and accept. I don't think we'll ever heal. I know I won't.
“We don't want to forget. We always want to keep her in our hearts and our thought and remember the good things, and how much she meant to us. We don't talk about that too much. It brings tears every time we do.”
Sutphin was a four-year varsity softball player, and was a part of Murphy's first team at Mid-Carolina in her freshman season. She was a leading hitter for the Rebels last season and helped them make it to the playoffs the last two seasons.
“When I got here, all we really had were girls walking around feeling sorry for themselves because they weren't any good,” Murphy said. “That's not going to get you any better. You have to work for it, and Danielle was one that bought into it, and we began buying into it being worth working for.”
Mid-Carolina nearly pulled off an upset after all the tributes were finished.
The Rebels took 3-A power Chapin to extra innings, before giving up four runs in the eighth inning.
The Eagles pieced together four hits in the innings, including a 2-RBI triple. They were helped by a pair of Mid-Carolina errors in the inning that led to two unearned runs.
Senior Allyson Kinard was saddled with the loss after pitching all eight innings, a night after throwing a complete-game in the Rebels' 9-3 win at Ninety Six in their region opener.
Kinard gave up 13 hits, but managed to give up just two runs before the eighth.
“(Kinard) was tired,” Murphy said. “I was debating how long to leave her out there on the mound, but like I told the girls, seven of those seniors have been waiting for a chance to beat Chapin, and as long as we were keeping it close, we were going to give them a chance to win it. I was a little skittish about leaving her out that long, but she hadn't thrown that many pitches.”
Chapin scored a run each in the fourth and fifth, but the Rebels answered in the bottom of each inning.
Kayla Price brought home Kendyl Hill in the fourth with a slow roller to first, and Samantha Hill scored in the fifth on a wild pitch.
The Rebels will be back in action tonight when they travel to Saluda for a 7 p.m. contest.