By Cassandra Swartz
The Hurricanes traveled to Tiger Town Tuesday night, put up 10 runs and came away with a win in their second-to-last game of the regular season. The victory was especially sweet since the Canes had dropped three of their last four in upset losses.
“It’s a real big win for the team,” said head coach Chris Chronister. “We had to turn it around.” Facing Lily Neal in the circle, Gainesville went up 2-0 early. Parris Wiggs and Jayla Clark drew walks, and each moved into scoring position with two outs.
A routine grounder that should have ended the half inning was misplayed and both runners raced home. Charlotte Sims got the start for the Canes, and the Tigers were able to take a run back in the bottom of the first.
Tamia Young reached on a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and crossed the plate on a single from Starla Vaughn. A big second inning is what ended up propelling the Canes to victory. A single and two walks loaded the bases to open, and a hit batter made it 3-1 before Katie Caren replaced Neal in the circle.
She fared no better, as Wiggs sent her second pitch over the fence in center for a grand slam to extend the lead to 7-1. The Tigers nearly snatched another run back in the home half, but an excellent ball from Wiggs in left to catcher Briana Boggs got McKenzie Clemons thrown out at the plate.
Gainesville added more insurance runs in the fourth as once again, it loaded the bases with no outs. Karter Thorp drove a double down the left field line that landed just fair to score Clark and Aa’laysia Williams.
On a hit by Sims, it looked like Addison Joseph would be tagged out between third base and home, but she slid safely in after a poor throw on the run-down attempt to make it 10-1. Neal returned to the circle to get the last two outs of the inning and was able to hold the Canes scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Union County launched a comeback attempt in the fifth, scoring four runs on a medley of hits. Young had a double that brought Angela Tucker home, Reah Jones scored Leah Clark and Young on a single, and Randa Goodwin drove in Jones with a single.
With the Tigers clawing their way back into the game, Sims was replaced by Kyra Hornsby who recorded the save. The game ended 10-5 after seven innings when Young was tagged out between bases on a Vaughn hit.
The star for the Canes was Wiggs who was excellent on defense and had the grand slam on offense, as well as notching a steal and two runs.
“I’m just really excited that we pulled out the win tonight and kept fighting,” she said as she also looked ahead to districts. “We’re going [to go] in playing hard, giving 110% every inning.”
Thorp, who had a two-RBI double, mentioned what the team needs to improve on before the postseason.“We need to work on closing; It’s not comfortable being out in the field like that, but we got it.”
Union County travels to Baldwin Thursday to end the regular season, while Gainesville hosts Williston Friday for its finale.
“It’s time to play some serious softball,” said Chronister. “We needed the win tonight, and we need a win on Friday.”