It was a game Greenwood Christian Academy could easily have let slip away.
After battling back from a 5-3 deficit with eight runs in the top of fifth inning to take an 11-5 lead against Waldron on Tuesday, the Cougars surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“When they make an error, girls get down on themselves,” Cougars coach Bill Hardwick said. “But the girls picked themselves back up.”
The Cougars outscored Waldron 6-1 in the final two innings to pull out a wild 17-14 victory in a Class A sectional semifinal at Edinburgh.
“The senior leadership on the team is amazing,” Hardwick said. “The team molds together like a big family; that’s what makes this special.”
Greenwood Christian (7-6) will face the winner of tonight’s Edinburgh-Morristown semifinal in Thursday’s championship.
“It was a team effort,” Cougars senior shortstop Tara Pennycuff said. “If someone got down, we say, ‘Keep your head up. Forget that last play, make a new one.’ We had good encouragement.”
Pennycuff had to overcome two throwing errors and some bad hops to make some key throws late in the game.
“You’ve got to remember even Babe Ruth made mistakes,” she said.
Pennycuff, who had three hits, delivered a two-run double in the first inning to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead. Waldron responded with one run in the first and four runs in the second.
The Cougars scored one run in the fourth on No. 9 hitter Emma Manship’s double, slicing the deficit to 5-3.
In the eight-run fifth, the Cougars’ No. 8 hitter, Alexis Mead, had biggest hit with a two-run single.
“That was a monster hit for Mead,” Hardwick said. “She’s a freshman and this is her first year playing.”
In the sixth inning, the Cougars scored five runs on three hits, an error, a walk, two wild pitches and hit batter to take a 16-13 lead. No. 7 hitter Amelia Walters had a run-scoring double.
“That inning started with the bottom of the order. I’m very happy with the girls,” Hardwick said.
After Waldron scored one run the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars got it back when Pennycuff doubled and scored on Avery Shingleton’s single in the seventh.
Junior pitcher Bethany Dailey went the distance to get the victory.
“We have four pitchers, but she’s the one with the most experience we have so we wanted to throw her here now to get to that next game,” Hardwick said.