Experience is not on the side of West Union this year, but despite the youth and the loss of seven players from the 2010 North Half runner-up squad, the Lady Eagles battled for two Saturday wins, advancing to next weekend’s 1A State Championship.
“That’s just been this team all season. They’re not going to give up and they’re going to keep fighting,” Lady Eagle head coach Lisa Bogue said. “They knew what they had to do, and they’re fighting for their season, and now we’ve made history. They did it, worked hard, focused and this was a whole different team from game one. They just came back.”
After falling on the road to Wheeler, 11-5, on Friday, West Union watched as the Lady Eagles took an early 2-0 lead in game two off an error. West Union responded with one run in each of the next two innings to tie the contest after an RBI single by Hannah McQuary. The sophomore would step up again later, tying the game once more in the sixth after Wheeler took a 3-2 lead in the third off a throwing error.
Game two would go to extra innings, with Wheeler striking first, scoring on a wild pitch. Jodi McMillen tied the game once more with her single in the bottom half of the eighth and an error by Wheeler in the ninth scored the game-winning run to force a deciding game three.
“They were cheering each other on, talking to each other in the dugout, and that’s what a team has to do,” Bogue said. “No fussing, just constructive criticism and trying to keep their heads up.”
Wheeler would again take the early lead in game three after Brooke Jones stole home to take the 1-0 lead. West Union answered, plating runners off a triple by Gina Beth Conlee and a single by McMillen. A throwing error in the third gave Wheeler its final lead, as West Union later scored three runs off four hits and an error in the fourth. Hilary Glover added one more run for Wheeler in the seventh with two outs before West Union picked up the final out to advance to state.
McQuary and McMillen each had three hits over two games, and Danielle Taylor combined for 11 strikeouts on the day. Taylor and fellow senior Leah Paige Goolsby will have one final shot at a state title in fast pitch, a feat that Bogue is proud of given the youth of her squad.
“For this team to even be playing to day, with only two seniors, two seventh graders and a bulk of the class ninth and tenth graders, is amazing in itself,” she said. “We lost seven girls from last year’s team that went to North Half, and it’s just unreal, but it shows how hard they’ve worked.”
Next for the Lady Eagles is the Bogue Chitto-Sebastopol winner in next week’s 1A State Championship in Ridgeland.
“I know they are both stout teams, and Bogue Chitto won last year, and they have experience on their side. We’ll take a couple of days next week and see what we can find out.”
Game one will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland.