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Douglas’ bat stays red-hot in delivery of walk-off single

L-E cools off Boiling Springs in 8 innings, 3-2

Posted: May 12, 2016 3:25 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

CAITLYN CURRY IS MOBBED by her teammates and L-E head coach James Marlow after the pinch-runner scored the winning run on a Bailey Douglas single in the Lady Demons’ 3-2, eight-inning victory over Boiling Springs.

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On a team whose roster includes a 4A All-State honoree, a North-South All-Star Game selection and a Division I verbal commitment, who could have blamed Lugoff-Elgin head coach James Marlow if Bailey Douglas was not the player he would have wanted at the plate in the eighth inning with the game on the line.

Douglas, the Lady Demons’ freshman outfielder, continued her torrid post-season by lining a one-out single to left field to drive in Caitlyn Curry with the winning run as the hostesses stayed alive in the 4A Upper State tournament with a 3-2 win over Boiling Springs on Monday.

With the win, L-E (28-3) advanced to a second straight elimination game on Wednesday at J.L. Mann while Boiling Springs’ season ended with a pair of one-run, eight inning losses in the Upper State tourney. 

No player on the Lady Demons has been swinging a hotter bat since the playoffs began than has Douglas. After not having hit a home run in the regular season, she belted two in as many games coming into Monday’s contest. This time, all the Lady Demons needed from her was a base hit to try and undo a 2-2 tie.

After the Lady Bulldogs evened things at 2-2 thanks to Shelby Griffin’s one-out, two-run blast in the top of the seventh, neither side could do anything in the rest of the seventh and, for the guests, in the top of the eighth.

BS pitcher McKenna Quinn, worked her fourth consecutive scoreless frame in the seventh but only after she got a fly ball third out to second baseman Moriah Gomez as the Lady Demons left the bags jammed.

Recently named to the 4A All-State squad, Baleigh Lunsford came out of the eighth unscathed but only after a scare.

Marley DeFreatis opened the top of the eighth by reaching on an error before being bunted over to second by Calli Richards. With one gone, Quinn hit a ground ball to shortstop Delaney Guerrero who, alertly, looked to second and found DeFreatis wandering off the bag. Guerrero threw the ball to second baseman Erica Rawl who chased down DeFreatis before throwing to third baseman Kaley Goerlich who ended the rundown by making a diving tag of DeFreatis between second and third for the second out of what became a scoreless top of the eighth.

Lunsford (24-3) then took to the bat to open the bottom half of the inning by sending a liner to center for a single before being replaced on first by courtesy runner Caitlyn Curry. Quinn then got a strikeout for the first out only to have Kelly Graham drop in a single to shallow left to put runners on first and second for Douglas who, while not getting the perfect pitch, did enough with the one she liked as her liner to left drove a sliding Curry home with the winning run. The throw home to catcher Logan Webb bounced over her head as a play could not be made at the plate.

Douglas said the last thing on her mind was trying to end the night with a home run when a single would do.

“I knew we had runners on and I knew it was important for me to get a hit,” Douglas said. “All I was thinking was that I had to make contact and, anything helps.”

Douglas’ two home runs both came on pitches middle-in, which is in her wheel house. She was hoping Quinn would oblige her with an offering to her liking.

“(Quinn) kept throwing me high-inside and tight and I was struggling with it,” said Douglas who did not have a hit in her first three tries on Monday. “She threw me one a little lower (in the eighth) and I just got a hold of it.

“I know I struggled some tonight but I tried to come up clutch in the end.”

Did she ever.

It was Douglas’ walk-off single sent a mad rush of Lady Demons onto the field to greet both Douglas and Curry. Leading the charge was Marlow, who earned win number 100 as the L-E head coach with the victory on Monday night.

While saying the importance of the victory dwarfed his personal accomplishment, Marlow said what number win this was for him took a back seat to living to fight another day in the postseason.

“To be honest with you, 100 wins was not in the picture. It was not associated with this win whatsoever,” he said. “But I’ll remember this one. It was so important and so tight and dramatic there at the end.”

The Lady Demons got to Quinn early with a first inning run. North-South-All-Star choice Guerrero got aboard on a one-out error and stole second. With two gone, junior catcher Sophie Holland unloaded with a double to the base of the fence in center to plate Guerrero with the game’s first run.

Two innings later, freshman Savannah Grigsby sent a one-out double to the gap in left center. After moving to third on Guerrero’s ground out to third, Grigsby came across on Lunsford’s two-out, opposite field single to right to make it 2-0.

Backed by a two-run cushion, Lunsford was in cruise control early on. Through the first five frames, Boiling Springs had a pair of singles and did not advance a runner beyond first base while striking out twice. In the sixth, the guests received a one-out single from Calli Richards who was on second base when Grigsby hauled in Webb’s deep, two-out drive a foot or two from the fence in center.

Things came nearly came totally undone for L-E in the seventh.

Emily Hill kick-started the inning by sending a leadoff single to right. Trailing by two runs, the Lady Bulldogs called on Grace McKinney to get Hill to second with a sacrifice bunt for the first out. Griffin followed by sending a rocket well beyond the trucks parked beyond the fence in center field to even things at 2-2. Lunsford then gathered herself to retire the next two batters to keep the game a stalemate.

“I thought we were going to cruise (to victory),” Marlow admitted before the seventh. “We had three outs to go and were up 2-0. 

“We’ve never been in a situation in the last inning where we’ve given up a home run or, we’ve allowed to big inning to have the game tied. But I’m so confident in Baleigh Lunsford and our defense and Baleigh’s demeanor and the way she bounces back from adversity that that was done and over with.

“I knew we were going to come back. We’re better than one swing. This team never stops and never stops working hard.”

While Marlow was confident in his team’s ability to come back from the game-tying blow, two of his players started getting a tad nervous.

“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, crap.’ It was the seventh inning,” Guerrero said  of her thoughts from her post at shortstop as Griffin circled the bases. “But I knew we could come back and hit so I didn’t worry about it that much.”

Grigsby hardly moved a muscle while having the best look at the no-doubter as it left the premises. 

“I was thinking, ‘Wow. That was a pretty big bomb,’” the freshman said with a laugh.

The Lady Demons nearly won this one in regulation as with two gone in the seventh, Quinn hit Taylor Sinay with a pitch before Erica Rawl went the opposite way for a single to right. A walk to Grigsby jammed the bases only to Quinn to get out of the mess with a fly ball.

Quinn was unable to repeat the feat an inning later as the Lady Demons collected three of their nine hits on the night in the eighth. None of those was bigger than that off the bat of Douglas who was a welcomed sight in the batter’s box in Marlow’s eyes and sent the home crowd off happy by getting a pitch to her liking.

Douglas came into Monday’s game batting better than .600 in four playoff games. Marlow said Douglas did not look real good in her two of her first three at-bats against Quinn.

“Bailey had two at-bats where she was out of her comfort zone. She took swings that were very unlike her,” he said. “I was worried (in the eighth) but I’ve seen Bailey take a swing or two that didn’t look good and then, pound one into the gap.

“In the end, we trusted our athletes to get up there and do what they are trained to do and take advantage of (Quinn’s) mistakes.”



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