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The Buffaloes withstood a bases-loaded jam and went on to defeat Gate City in Group A softball.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
FLOYD — The bases were loaded with no outs and Floyd County’s two-run lead — and season — hovered on the brink of ruin.
No pressure, Karlee Pendleton.
Buffaloes coach Scott Thompson turned to Pendleton in relief of a tiring Christene Phillips and tasked her with keeping the team’s season alive in the fourth inning Tuesday against Gate City in the Group A Division 2 softball quarterfinals.
Pendleton escaped the jam and the Buffaloes shifted into high gear en route to a 7-2 victory and their first-ever trip to the state semifinals.
Floyd County (21-3) will meet Northumberland on Friday in Radford for a chance to advance to the state championship game.
“I just tried my best to keep a straight head on,” Pendleton said.
Phillips tiptoed around multiple jams, giving up a run in a bases-loaded situation in the second inning before running into more trouble in the fourth. Gate City opened the inning with two singles sandwiched around a walk. Then Katie Potts’ grounder to second base proved just deep enough to allow Jordan Lovelace to outrun Riley Underwood’s throw to the plate.
Hamilton then summoned Pendleton from first base to protect Floyd County’s 4-2 lead.
Kitty Raymond greeted Pendleton with a ground ball virtually identical to the one hit by Potts, but this time Underwood nabbed pinch-runner Alexis Cosados at home. Pendleton then fanned Caitlin McConnell and retired Kendra Dougherty on a come-backer to escape unscathed.
“I know I have a great defense to back me up, so I was just trying to get ground balls so we could get out of the inning,” Pendleton said.
“She’s done a good job for us all year,” Thompson said. “She’s 6-0 as a starter.”
The close call appeared to allow the Buffaloes to exhale a bit. They responded with additional runs in their half of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to pull away. Pendleton also was a cog in the team’s 12-hit attack, contributing two singles and a run scored. Holly Britt finished a triple shy of the cycle, scoring twice and drilling a solo home run to right-center field.
Aimee Royal also had three hits and drove in a pair of runs.
“We got a team effort,” Thompson said. “Everybody plays together and everybody knows one day it’s my turn, the next day it’s somebody else’s. That’s the way we’ve done it all year long.”
It was a frustrating end to an unexpected postseason run for Gate City, which was picked to finish last in its district. Its 11-14 record includes six one-run losses and two others by two runs.
Gate City stranded 10 runners and committed four errors, each of which factored in a Floyd County run.
“We knew coming up here we couldn’t allow this team to take advantage of our mistakes, and I knew that they would,” Gate City coach Cara Noe said. “They’re just a good team. I think maybe our youth and nerves got the best of us there in the beginning. But we still kept fighting. With two outs in the seventh inning we had runners on first and second. I can’t ask much more of these players.”
Pendleton and the Buffaloes are asking more of themselves following their most recent step forward into school history.
“We came in there and we were pumped and we were hitting the ball hard, and when we start off hitting the ball hard, we just know we’re going to win,” Pendleton said. “We know what we are here to do and we did it.”
Gate City 010 100 0 — 2 5 4
Floyd County 130 11 x — 7 12 2
Repass, McConnell (5) and Compton, Pressley (4); Phillips, Pendleton (4) and Whitlow. W—Phillips. L—Repass. HR—Floyd County, Britt.
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