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Lady Demons squeezed from state tourney

Posted: May 8, 2014 11:02 a.m.
Updated: May 9, 2014 5:00 a.m.

L-E FRESHMAN BALEIGH LUNSFORD drove home a pair of run in the second game of Wednesday’s twinbill against Northwestern.

ROCK HILL -- Lugoff-Elgin struck the first blow while Northwestern delivered the final one to advance to Saturday’s 4A Upper State softball championship tournament in downing the visiting Lady Demons, 5-4, in nine innings in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader played in Rock Hill.
L-E dealt the Trojans their first loss of the season in the opener, winning 4-1, to set up a second and deciding game for the District 3 crown. In the nightcap, Northwestern used a squeeze bunt from Brooke Foster to plate Meredith Cudd with the winning run to cap a comeback from a 3-0 deficit.
The heartbreaking game two setback capped a 22-5 campaign for James Marlow’s charges.
In the opener, L-E’s Erin Blizzard and NHS’ Kori Wancheck matched each other, pitch for pitch, through the first five innings.Each pitcher only allowed one base runner through the first five frames with L-E’s Taylor Rawl and the Trojans’ Daina Chase collecting first inning singles.
L-E broke through in the top of the sixth inning, scoring four runs by sending nine batters to the plate. Kenyatta Anderson led things off with a perfect push bunt to the right side, just out of the Wancheck’s reach. Dallas Guerrero followed by laying down a dandy bunt down between the pitcher and catcher causing a bad throw wide of first base by Rachel Marion. With runners at on the corners and and no one out, Sophie Holland hit an 0-2 pitch to shallow left that fell just between leftfielder Lorna Day and shortstop Cassie Wancheck, scoring Anderson with the first run of the game. 
Seeing this as opportunity for a big inning, Marlow decided to pinch-run for Holland at first by inserting Savannah Grigsby into the game. With runners at first and second, Wancheck was able to get a pop-up to her for the first out. Rawl was able to draw a walk, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Baleigh Lunsford. On an 0-1 pitch, Lunsford hit a single to right field, scoring Guerrero from third to make it 2-0. 
With the bases still loaded, Kelly Graham hit a line drive two-run single to right center, scoring Grigsby from third and Rawl from second, giving the Lady Demons a 4-0 lead. With runners on first and second, Wancheck was able to get out of further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
Trailing 4-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, NHS received a leadofff home run from Rachel Marion. Cleanup hitter Cassie Wancheck was next and hit a hard line drive down the left field line for a double. Despite giving up two hard hits to start the inning,  Blizzard was able to retire the next three Northwestern hitters in order to secure the game one victory for the Demons and force a decisive second contest.
 After having lost the coin toss to determine the home team for  game two, L-E did not waste anytime and used the momentum gained from the opener and carried it right into nightcap as the guests scored three runs in the top of the first.
Holland started things by hitting a single to left. Seeing the importance of scoring early, again, Marlow had Grigsby pinch-run for Holland.  Delaney Guerrero followed and put a perfect bunt down for an infield hit. With runners on first and second, Rawl drove a single to right, scoring Grigsby from second to give the guests a 1-0 lead. 
With runners on the corners with no outs, Rawl stole second to put runners into scoring positon for Lunsford who drove an 0-2 pitch down the right field line for a single which scored both Delaney Guerrero and Rawl for a 3-0 lead. Wancheck escaped further damage by striking out three of L-E’s next four hitters.
Northwestern answered by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Kori Wancheck was able to draw a walk to score Brooke Foster from third. Marion followed with a single in hole between third base and shortstop, scoring Delia Fields from third. With the lead trimmed to 3-2, Blizzard retired Cassie Wancheck on a highlight reel catch in shallow centerfield by second baseman Delaney Guerrero.
 L-E maintained its one-run lead into the top of the fifth which opened with Hannah Cole legging out an inside the park home run on a line drive to right field that rightfielder Tiana Lewter stretched out for and missed. That would be all the Lady Demons could muster in the that inning as Wancheck got a pair of pop flies and a ground out to end the frame.
Down 4-2, Northwestern showed why it is one of the top teams in the state by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Lewter started things off by hitting a line drive single to center. Despite being down two runs, NHS coach Bryan Smith had Foster bunt Lewter over to second. With one out, LaBresha Whitlock pinch hit for Lorna Day and was able to draw a walk, putting runners at first and second. Blizzard was able to retire Fields on a strike out.
But with two gone, Chase hit a bloop single to left field that was just out of the reach of shortstop Dallas Guerrero, scoring Lewter from second. Kori Wancheck came to the plate and hit a line drive single to left field, scoring Whitlock from third to tie things at 4-4. 
 The game stayed that way until the ninth inning. In softball, if the game is still tied going into the ninth inning, the last batter who was out in the eighth starts the ninth at second base. 
L-E was unable to score a run in the top of the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth with a runner at third with one out, Foster laid down a perfect bunt on a squeeze play that was just out out Blizzard’s reach on the third base sid,e scoring Cudd from third to end the game.  
In two games, Blizzard worked 15.1 innings allowing 16 hits while fanning 11 batters.
Delaney Guerrero had two hits in the nightcap while Lunsford had a hit in each game while driving in three runs, including a pair in game two for the Lady Demons.


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