The dugout was dead silent, and there was nothing but intense focus as West Union was a game away from making the 1A state championship in softball. The Lady Eagles are two years removed from its last trip to Jackson, and memories of that series carried with the team as they faced the defending champion, Smithville.
Already carrying a 1-0 series lead after a win on the road last Saturday, the Lady Eagles watched as the Lady Seminoles capitalized on errors in the third inning of Monday’s second game. The three runs scored in that frame was all Smithville needed to tie the series, winning 3-0.
Smithville carried that momentum into the top of game three, taking an early 1-0 lead, but despite the pressure, the team that head coach Lisa Bogue has guided all year showed its full potential in the coming innings.
Much like the second game of its series against Vardaman, West Union struggled offensively, and that was credited on Monday to Smithville’s Morgan Barrett. Holding the Lady Eagles to four hits and leaving six runners on base, Smithville took game two and carried the momentum into the final game of the series.
“We weren’t able to do much, and they were disappointed in themselves, but we kept telling them, keep coming with a positive attitude,” Bogue said.
“We knew we had to step it up, because this could have been our last game,” West Union senior Hannah McQuary added. “She (Barrett) threw a lot of change ups, and we struggled there, but we came through. We all struggled with it, but we found a way to come through.”
Three Lady Eagles had hits in the first inning of game three, scoring three runs to take the 3-1 lead. Callie Baggett and Jesslyn Brewer would add to that lead in the third, scoring two runs to lead, 5-1.
Smithville made it a two-run game in the fourth, but the Lady Eagles would get those runs back in the bottom half to carry a 7-3 lead.
Barrett drove in the Lady Seminoles’ fourth run in the top of the fifth and would later tie the game on a two-run double in the top of the seventh. Forcing extra innings, the emotion poured out of each West Union player and the intensity grew, especially after Smithville took an 8-7 lead in the top of the eighth.
“The intensity, we knew coming into today, would be tremendous, and Smithville came into today ready for a fight,” Bogue said.
With their backs against the wall and three outs away from ending the season, destiny would be fulfilled for the Lady Eagles.
The big hit
Bailey Bogue struggled at the plate all night, despite coming up with the big hits for West Union in Saturday’s 5-3 game-one win. In that game, Bailey would drive in runs on two doubles, but that same offense was not there for the junior on Monday.
With bases loaded and no outs, she stepped up when needed the most, getting the game-winning run to send the Lady Eagles back to Jackson.
“The whole time I was thinking that if I could just get that one RBI, we would win the ball game, but I was not expecting that,” Bailey said of the hit. “I wasn’t doing what I knew I was capable of all night, and I decided that it was time to do something about it.”
The hit sent the Lady Eagles in a frenzy, as Bailey was embraced at third plate by her mother and fans began to celebrate the north half title.
“At the end, Bailey got that hit, and I don’t think she had a hit up until that point, but she came through with runs on when we needed her,” Bogue said of her daughter. “Our girls were ready; I honestly believe they were. They came through when they needed to.”
Next for the Lady Eagles is the 1A state championships, beginning on Friday. West Union will face either Bogue Chitto or Nahih Waiya in the best of three series at Freedom Ridge Park.
“It’s really exciting,” McQuary said. “Last time, we didn’t come out with a win, but I believe we can do it. We all need to step up, and this means so much to us seniors. We don’t want it to end without a win.”