GREENWOOD – The Lander softball team used heads-up base running from Casey Wooten and Sydney Grimes and a colossal home run from Ashley Vinson to earn a pair of walk-off wins against Newberry at Doug Spears Field on Wednesday.
Lander (17-7) took game one by a score of 2-1 before topping the Wolves (17-9), 10-9, in extra innings in game two.
"We always challenge them to show us their heart and their fight when they're down," said head coach Glen Crawford, "and they always dig in and pass the bat and get up for it. Hopefully, we don't have to do it too many times, but, when we do, they fight and they scratch their way back.
Lander pushed across the first run of the day in the fourth inning of game one. After a pair of two-out singles from Brianna Surrento and Alana Frye, Kasey Rogers' grounder was misplayed at first base and thrown away, allowing Surrento to score from second.
Newberry tied the game in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from Morgan Wagaman, but Wooten led off the bottom of the inning with a single to bring up Sydney Grimes. The sophomore laid down a bunt and reached first base right as the throw arrived, striking her on the back. The ball rolled into right field as Grimes broke for second and the throw arrived to the bag simultaneously. Grimes slid in safely as the ball came free, allowing Wooten to race home with the winning run.
McKenzi Ferguson (11-2) recorded 11 strikeouts with two walks while allowing just one run on six hits to earn the complete-game win. Newberry's Alyssa Ball (7-4) was tagged with the loss, surrendering two runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 6.0 innings.
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice bunt from Kelli McCormack that scored Wooten, but Newberry answered with two runs in the top of the second. Lander knotted the score on Halie Sorrow's RBI groundout in the bottom of the third and surged ahead in the fourth inning on a double from Rogers that brought home Vinson and a two-run single from McCormack.
However, Newberry posted six runs in the top of the fifth, thanks in part to three Bearcat errors, and another run in the sixth to move ahead 9-5.
Lander's bats roared back to life in the seventh inning as McCormack beat out an infield single to score Vinson and cut the lead to 9-6. With the bases loaded, two outs and two strikes, Chandler Carey laced a single into right field to plate Rogers.
After Ferguson (12-2) returned to the circle to keep the Wolves off the board in the top of the eighth, Vinson smashed a leadoff homer over the left field wall to cap a wild Bearcat victory.