For the past five years, the script would have written itself. Hammond’s softball team was down 11–0 to the Dreher Blue Devils in the second inning, and Skyhawk and Dreher fans alike expected that mercy rule was sure to be invoked in the next inning. But not this day.
In the middle of the second inning of the March 4 match–up, on a chilly and windy night, second–year Hammond coach Ken Beasley called a timeout, and with a few words to his team, encouraged the girls to fight back. The young team got out of the inning with no more damage and then staged a long, slow comeback that eventually ended three hours later with an improbable 17–16 victory over the 3A Blue Devils.
Beasley said he takes most of the blame for the poor start.
“Since it was early in the season, I made the decision right before the game to shake up the line–up to see how they responded,” Beasley said. “That really didn’t work in the first two innings.”
Dreher, with a seemingly insurmountable lead, made several substitutions in the bottom of the third inning. That’s when Hammond’s bats came alive, and the team put up nine runs to cut the lead to two. An error started the inning, putting freshman Caroline Penland on first. Anna Elise Goudelock reached on a fielder’s choice, and senior Rachel Hanna drew a walk to load the bases. A two–run single by Brooks Burnside opened the floodgates for the Skyhawks, who scored seven more runs on singles by Caroline Harris, Jordan Miller, and Penland.
“Everyone contributed in their own way to that inning,” Beasley said. “It was really a team effort that allowed us to catch up.”
Hammond went ahead 14–13 for a brief moment in the bottom of the fifth when Parker Herring and Goudelock walked, Hanna reached on an error, and Penland hit a two–run single. After a fly–out double play, Grace Cobbs stroked a single, and Faythe Goins smashed a three–run triple.
But solid hitting by Dreher resulted in three more runs for the Blue Devils. Undaunted, the Skyhawks roared back to score three of their own in the bottom of the sixth. The score was 17–16 going into the last frame.
It was now the Skyhawks’ time to hold the Blue Devils scoreless, something they had only done once the entire game. A runner got on first on a close play but then was called out for leaving the base early on what would have been a scorching hit down the third base line. Hammond then got two quick outs, and the game ended with a dribbler to second base’s Miller, who tossed it to Hanna for the final out.
The team is now 1–1, which is the first time in many years that the Skyhawks can claim a .500 record.
“I couldn’t have scripted it any better,” said Beasley. “Given the fact that they overcame some big odds from the start, I’d have to say this is one of the bigger wins in school history.”
But the Skyhawks are not able to rest on their laurels. They are scheduled to play Dreher again March 11. After the March 4 game ended, one Dreher player left the field with a promise: “See you next week for the revenge game.”
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