ANDERSON — Newberry took Queens to the brink in the opening round of the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Softball Championship in an eight inning 5-4 loss.
The Royals got out to a hot start as a single up the middle allowed their leadoff to take first base. Followed by a sacrifice bunt to the catcher, the runner moved to second. The next two batters were walked.
Queen’s center fielder was due up and hit a bases loaded home run to left field to take the premature lead at 4-0.
Starting pitcher Alyssa Ball and the Newberry defense corralled and forced the proceeding batters into ground outs.
Down but not out, the Wolves battled back into contention over the course of several innings while keeping the Royals scoreless during their comeback. The rally began in the second inning as Ball was relieved by senior Emily Marchbanks who retired the batting order for Queens through a pop up, swinging strikeout, and ground out.
In bottom of the second, Paige Meyer reached base on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second during the play. Haley Wildes would take first base after being hit by a pitch. Allison Van Atta loaded the bases as she was hit by a pitch.
Daphne Peyton entered the batter’s box with runners waiting for her to put the ball into play. She would reach on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop with Van Atta out on the play, but Wildes would advance to third and Meyer would take home for Newberry’s first run of the afternoon.
The next five innings for Queens would be scoreless as Newberry’s defense spearheaded by Marchbanks would retired them mostly in order.
The fourth inning saw Newberry tack on two more runs as Peyton’s double to left center would start things off for the Wolves. McKenzie Barneycastle reached first base on an error by the pitcher with pinch runner Shannon McCann taking third base on the play.
Freshman Sydney Patterson accepted the moment and tripled to right center allowing both runners to score. The inning would end with Newberry nabbing two runs, two hits, an error, and leaving one stranded. The Wolves had successfully eaten into the Royals’ lead, 4-3.
The tying run would come in the bottom of the fifth as a Wildes’ double to right center brought Meyer, who got on base via a single up the middle, home.
The teams would sit deadlocked at four a piece through the final two innings of regulation, sending the game into extras, but not before each team would face incredible rallies from one another.
In the top of the sixth Queens’ center fielder doubled to left center and was propelled to third base by the next batter who flied out to left field. Van Atta would stretch herself vertically to catch a line drive headed directly toward her.
Patterson continued her hitting with a double in the following half inning, but the Wolves wouldn’t be able to bring her home.
The Royals attempted another rally in the top of the seventh, but first baseman Wildes would put a dent in that plan with a forceful tag on the first base line for the second out of the inning. However, the bases would be loaded later for Queens against the Wolves’ defense.
Marchbanks would force the batter into a fielder’s choice to third base for the final out. She would lead Newberry out of a game ending situation unfazed.
The bottom of the seventh proved just as tricky, this time for Queens. Wildes took first via hit by pitch. Morgan Wagaman reached on an error by the third baseman and Wildes went to second. Van Atta’s single to the pitcher would load the bases again for Peyton.
Peyton grounded into a double play with Van Atta going to second and Wagaman out on the play.
With the game still tied and rallies for both teams dismantled, the game was sent into extras. A solo Queens home run would allow them to take the lead and the game at 5-4.
Newberry would finish the 2018 season going 30-19 overall and 11-9 in conference play to secure the No. 3 seed for this tournament.