The Union County softball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a come-from-behind road win against a higher classification on Monday night.
The Tigers, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, finished with 13 hits in a 6-4 win at Class 5A Gainesville.
“The other night (Friday in a 4-1 loss at Fort White) we didn’t play very well, we definitely didn’t do a good job at the plate,” said Union County coach James Godwin. “But to come over here and beat GHS, it’s a rival to Union County, probably not so much to them, but it is to us.”
Junior Hannah Rivera, who bats eighth in the lineup, led off the top of the sixth with a base hit.
Rivera, who finished 3-for-4, scored on an error to give Union County a 5-4 lead. It was one of two errors in the inning by the Hurricanes.
Later in the inning, junior Hailey Burke walked with the bases loaded to give Union County some insurance.
The Tigers (10-1) finished the game with 13 hits off GHS pitcher Kyra Hornsby, who pitched a complete game with two walks and two strikeouts.
“We did a better job of getting into a hitter’s count,” Godwin said. “When you do that, with the athletes that we’ve got, we stand a good chance of getting on base. That’s kind of the key that runs our offense, seeing a lot of pitches and getting into a hitter’s count.”
Gainesville (8-7) had taken a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI double by Kam Sumler, who represented the game-winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
However, with two on and nobody out, pitcher Megan Sullivan, who came in relief in the second inning, caught her looking on a 1-2 pitch.
Sullivan, who hit shortstop Karter Thorp to start the inning and walked Braylin Cook, retired the next two batters to pick up the victory.
“I liked the way we were playing in the beginning of the game,” said Gainesville coach Chris Chronister. “Unfortunately, it took a turn for the worse in the late innings and we reverted to some of our early season errors.”
Gainesville committed four errors, including the two in the sixth, that helped open the door for the Tigers.
Both teams left a lot of runners on base. GHS stranded 10, while Union County left nine on base.
“A little bit of pitch selection I think was our problem,” said Chronister, whose team left at least one runner on base in every inning. “We talked after the game about being more gritty at the plate with runners on and runners in scoring position. But a lot of it was their approaches at the plate, not swinging at good pitches and letting good pitches go by. It was that simple.”
The Tigers scored early, plating two runs in the top of the first inning.
Junior catcher Tamia Young, who finished 3-for-4 and added four stolen bases, led off the game with a single. After stealing second and third, she scored on an RBI single by Leah Clark.
“That’s why she’s up there,” Godwin said about his leadoff batter. “For a long time, up until this year, she batted in the two-hole for us, but she just sees a lot of pitches. Not only can she go back and tell her teammates what she’s seeing, but it also gives her the opportunity to see a good pitch and hit it. Right now, she’s a hard out.”
A couple of batters later junior Nyasia Williams singled in Clark for a 2-0 lead.
GHS answered with two in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Parris Wiggs and an error by Young, who missed the tag of Cailin Fouraker at the plate when she dropped the ball, allowing two runs to score on the play, chasing starting pitcher Lily Neal.
Both teams will be at home on Tuesday night.
Union County hosts Dixie County (Cross City) in a 1-2 matchup in Class 1A at 6:30 p.m. The No. 2 Bears are 8-1.
Gainesville, which will name its field “Boulware Ball Field” after long-time athletic director Cindy Boulware, hosts defending 1A state champion Trenton at 7 p.m.