By John Shifflett / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
Making key plays in crucial moments is everything in postseason. Just ask the Madison County softball team.
The Mountaineers scored runs when they needed them most and got the crucial outs when they had to have them as they defeated nemesis Clarke County 5-4 in the Bull Run District tournament championship game on Thursday night.
Madison (18-4) struggled at the plate early in the game but got a pair of key hits in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie. With two outs and on the brink of another fruitless inning, Chelsea Shifflett and Karri Carpenter delivered back-to-back RBI singles to give Madison a 4-2 lead. Prior to Shifflett and Carpenter’s hits, the Mountaineers had mustered just two hits.
“We got some hits when we needed them,” said Madison coach Jesse Yowell, who was named the Bull Run District coach of the year after the game.
The Mountaineers got another big hit in the sixth inning when Caitlyn Ford drove in another run on a single to give Madison a 5-2 advantage. The run turned out to be critical.
Clarke County came out swinging in the top of the seventh inning, with two of its first three batters reaching base. Then, with two outs, Natalie Tupper brought both of the Eagle runners home with a double to pull Clarke County within one.
With Tupper, the tying run, 120 feet from home plate, Yowell called his team together at the pitcher’s mound to regroup.
“You could see the look in their eye,” Yowell said. “When we get in situations like that, I like to let things settle and jell. I told them ‘Don’t let this run score.’ “
And they didn’t. Madison ace Jordan Aylor (17-4) got Clarke County’s Chelsea Nelson, who had an RBI hit earlier in the game, to ground out and secure the tournament title for the Mountaineers.
It wasn’t the only tough situation that Aylor, the Bull Run district player of the year, and the Madison defense had to get out of. The Eagles had seven runners reach scoring position that didn’t cross home plate.
“It puts you on the right track,” said Yowell of winning in close fashion. “It keeps confidence up.”
That confidence will be key as the Mountaineers move on to Regional play. Madison opens the Region B tournament on Monday when it hosts Central (Woodstock) at 7 p.m.
“We have to play well,” Yowell said. “It’s all great teams the rest of the way.”