Better late than never was the story for West Union Thursday night. Taking on county and division rival Myrtle for a spot in the 1A State Championship, it took the Lady Eagles until the decisive game three to get into their groove and take the series from the Cinderella Lady Hawks.
Jenna Jordan, Meshay Cox and Brandi Smith all had multiple hits for Myrtle, as they came from behind, 4-2 to take the 8-4 lead after the fifth off of RBI doubles by Jordan and Cox, and RBI singles from Laken Butler and Kiana Judon.
Myrtle added one more run in the top of the seventh, and West Union scratched away at the lead in the bottom half, as Jessica Gates opened with a leadoff double. Robyn Taylor had an RBI single, followed by a sacrifice flyout by Leah Paige Goolsby with bases loaded, making it 9-7. Carley Wilkerson brought in the final run on a single with two outs before Myrtle took the win.
The Lady Eagles responded in game two, as they opened with four runs in the first, including a two RBI single by Rachel Baker and back-to-back sacrifice flyouts by April Rollins and Goolsby.
West Union tacked on two more runs in the second with doubles by Danielle Taylor and Claire Wilkerson. A single by Garner made the score 6-1.
Myrtle stormed back in the bottom of the second with five runs to tie the game, as Judon and Keely Chunn had back-to-back doubles to start the inning. With bases loaded, Cox belted a three run double to tie the game.
After a nonproductive inning by both teams, West Union scored three in the fourth, as an error by Myrtle brought in two runs with bases loaded. The Lady Eagles would bring in three more in the sixth, as Garner, Kimberly Jumper, Baker and Rollins all had hits in the inning.
Down 12-8, the Lady Hawks scored only one run in the seventh to take the series to a decisive game three, which was an offensive explosion for West Union.
Myrtle opened with one run off of a single by Smith, and that would be the Lady Hawks only score, as West Union took the 2-1 lead in the bottom half and never looked back.
The Lady Eagles took off with 10 runs in the second to take the 12-1 lead and added five more to win the game 18-1 and punch a ticket to Jackson on Saturday. Almost every Lady Eagle had multiple hits in the final game, including triples by Jumper and doubles by Baker and Goolsby.
“First game was a struggle. Myrtle had the one big inning, and we knew they would be the worthy opponent. They were on a roll and playing well, and I told Coach Gordon this is the best coaching job he’s ever done with any of his teams. Both him and Coach Cook, you have to give them the upmost respect for coming in here and beating our tail in that first game. We battled and we just couldn’t get up. The second game, we just kind of survived, and in the third game we played like we’ve been playing the past month. I think some of their youth and inexperience caught up with them, and our experience took off getting a lot of good, solid hits that we weren’t getting earlier,” West Union head coach Andy Kirk said.
Ending the season at 18-11, Myrtle had a strong showing in the playoffs, defeating the defending state champion in Smithville and knocking out one of the top 1A teams from the North in Wheeler.
“I’m pleased with these girls. With the effort they put in, they’re highly disappointed and let down. We were so close, only one game away, but we knew if we bumped the nest over there, they were going to be stirred up. That last game wasn’t even close because finally they started putting some hits together, and it was pretty much over by the second inning because they came out swinging the bats really aggressive,” Myrtle head coach Robert Gordon said.
West Union awaits the West Lincoln-Bogue Chitto in the 1A Championship. West Lincoln took game one of South Half 13-4 Thursday night before a rainout. Those two teams will resume play on Friday starting at 1:00 p.m.
The 1A State Championship is slated for an 11:00 a.m. start Saturday morning at the V.A. Fields in Jackson.