It’s not over until the final pitch.
Russell County head softball coach Tonya Rexroat relayed this message to her team in a joyous postgame speech after the Lady Lakers defeated Taylor County, 6-3, in a dramatic, opening-night comeback.
Taylor County was in control for much of the contest Tuesday, March 15, but a late-inning rally powered the home-standing Russell County squad.
The Lady Cards scored in the first inning and held Russell County scoreless until senior Tarryn Reynolds drove in freshman Mallie McQueary in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third, Taylor County scored twice to take a 3-1 lead, which would hold steady until the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, a comebacker struck Reynolds in the leg inside the pitcher’s circle. After the infield gathered in the circle to show support for their pitcher, Reynolds tested out her leg with a practice pitch and was able to resume. She worked her way out of the inning unscathed.
Then Russell County put on their rally caps and went to work.
Junior Emma Popplewell smacked a double down the left-field line to lead off before the momentum briefly stalled. A groundout moved Popplewell to third, but a subsequent strikeout brought the game to within one out of being over, the Lady Lakers still trailing, 3-1.
With two outs and Popplewell on third, Reynolds reignited the rally with a single, scoring Popplewell and cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Courtesy runner Avery Hart came in for Reynolds, and a double by freshman Nevaeh Duncan advanced Hart to third base.
From there, junior Jadyn Mann blasted a two-run double to give Russell County its first lead of the night at 4-3. Junior Mady Hatchett recorded another double for the Lady Lakers to bring home Mann and take a 5-3 lead. Senior Sophie Shearer drew a walk, and Hatchett then stole third base, setting up a perfectly executed double steal that brought Hatchett home for the 6-3 final score.
Taylor County briefly threatened to score in the top of the seventh, with two runners on base, but a fly ball to left field was easily handled by senior Caroline Wells to end the game.
On offense, Reynolds and Mann led Russell County with two RBI apiece, with Hatchett adding the other RBI for Russell County (and accounting for a non-RBI run by stealing home). The team recorded nine hits in 25 at-bats, with four of those being doubles.
Shearer drew two walks in the game, and as a team, the Lady Lakers only struck out three times.
Reynolds pitched the entire game and picked up the win in the circle, striking out four while allowing six hits and three earned runs.
Russell County’s glove work was solid, only recording one error.
The Lady Lakers’ next game is scheduled at home against South Laurel on Friday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m., followed by another home contest against Southwestern at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 19.