A dramatic seventh inning by the Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers enabled them to slip past the visiting David Emanuel Academy Lady Eagles 6-5 in a key Region 1-A softball game at the Briarwood field Sept. 17.
"You came through when it counted," Briarwood head coach Hannah Demore told her players after the game.
"I'm real proud of all of you. You never once gave up."
Coach Demore said the game "was a must-win game for us, so there was a lot of pressure on the team to get the job done. They really came through."
At this time in the season, the Lady Bucs are beginning to impress their second-year coach.
"I have never seen my girls come together like they did in that game," coach Demore said.
"They yelled and screamed and ended up winning the game by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning."
She said the girls are starting to come together as "a real team" -- one that supports each other and believes in one another.
"We are the kind of team that likes to play until the end," coach Demore said.
The win keeps Briarwood in second place in the region.
One of the stars of the game was junior third baseman Maria Celeste Johnson, who drove in the winning run with a single into left field.
The hit scored shortstop Kris Dawson, who earlier had reached on a walk.
"It felt pretty good," Johnson said after the game. "I've always wanted to get a winning hit."
Dawson, a sophomore, was equally as excited.
"I've never scored the winning run before," Dawson said. "It felt awesome."
Coach Demore said, "I am very proud of Maria for stepping up and getting the hit when it counted."
She also praised two other players on the team, senior pitcher Gerry Hall, who notched another win on the mound and senior catcher Erin Phelps, who threw a couple of runners out on the base path during the game.
Briarwood went up 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning on a pair of hits.
One of those hits came off the bat of first baseman Taylor Echols, who drove in left fielder Emily Henderson, who earlier had reached on a single to center field.
The Lady Bucs scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to increase their lead to 3-0.
Henderson, who went 2-for-3, smashed a two-run double into the left center field gap to score Megan May, who had walked and Lizzie Keen, who was hit by a pitch.
In the fifth, David Emanuel tied the game at 3-3 -- thanks in part to three fielding miscues by Briarwood.
The Lady Bucs reclaimed the lead 4-3 with another run in the sixth.
Keen reached base again after being hit by an errant pitch. She later raced home on a pass ball by the catcher.
In the top of the seventh, the Lady Eagles tallied a pair of runs to again lead 5-4.
The Lady Bucs came right back in the bottom of the frame with two runs of their own.
The other runner scoring to tie the game at 5-5 was Phelps, who had drawn a leadoff walk to get the winning rally started.