CENTRE – The first time Cherokee County and White Plains’ softball teams met this season, the Lady Warriors won by a run in eight innings.
The two teams eclipsed that game on Thursday night in Centre.
The Lady Wildcats batted back from a four-run deficit to tie the game at five to force another extra-inning affair that wasn’t decided until the bottom of the 10th.
Cherokee County’s Carson Coley connected on the game-winning single center field, scoring Karlee Perry from second base for a 6-5 victory. The win secured the right to host the Class 4A, Area 9 tournament.
“I knew my team needed me,” Coley said. “I was tired, and I think everybody else was tired. After Karlee and Reachel (Russell) both got on base, I knew I had them in position to score. I knew I had to hit.”
“The at-bat before that, she was down on herself, but we did our best to keep her up,” Lady Warrior coach Brad Weaver said. “She needed that. Her confidence has been down, but it can’t be down any more.”
Early on, it didn’t seem like the game would turn into another marathon. The Lady Warriors (14-9) took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but White Plains kept chipping away.
The Lady Wildcats scored single runs in the third and the fourth, then tallied two in the sixth to cut Cherokee County’s lead to a run at 5-4.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Hallie Williams doubled to center, then Callie Richardson sent a sharply-hit ball past third to bring Williams home to tie the game at five.
It remained tied at five until the bottom of the 10th. With two outs, Perry reached on her third hit of the game, and Russell followed with her single to center, setting the stage for Coley’s heroics.
“I knew it was going to be a fight. We just had to keep on pushing through,” Coley said. “We all had to hit well, keep pushing, and have no errors. That’s how we were able to win.”
And more than just win a game.
“We haven’t hosted area since my eighth grade year,” Coley said. “To be able to host it as a junior means a lot to me.”
The area championship could come down to another meeting between White Plains and the Lady Warriors, but Weaver will deal with that if and when the time comes.
“Our girls are getting used to this (winning late),” he said. “I don’t want it to be that way, but if we have to, then we’ll do it that way.
“Our girls stay calm and collected. They stay composed. We work at that. We try to put them under as much pressure as we can at practice. That’s twice we’ve had to do it against them. We did it at their place the first time in extra innings, and we come back and got to do it here in extra innings. We knew coming in they weren’t going to give it to us, and they’re not going to give up now. They’ve going to come back at us in area, and Jacksonville will too.”
Alana Loyd earned the win Thursday after going the distance. She finished with 12 strikeouts.