By VAN HOLLAND
PINETOPS – Two comebacks and none bigger then the one in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday were the keys to the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars defeating the Greene Central Rams 8-7 in Eastern Plains Conference action. With the win, the Cougars keep their playoff hopes alive with just four games remaining in the conference.
"I am very proud of the girls for their will to want to fight back and win," Cougars coach Shelton Langley said. "We didn't give up and that is something we have built on over the season."
Early in the season when the Cougars got down, they would quit. Not Tuesday though, because they trailed by three runs going into the bottom of the seventh inning and fought back to score three and tie the game up to send it to extra innings. Greene Central scored a run in the ninth and the Cougars battled back again and scored two to win. Back to back RBI's by Melanie Stanfield and Lexi Rhodes were the difference.
"Three weeks ago we would have not won this game," Langley said. "I told them after the game we have not only gotten better physically, but we don't give up anymore when bad things happen."
SouthWest was having trouble in the early innings hitting the ball. Langley told them to take a strike and get their timing down. Once the Cougars did that, they were sitting on the pitches and were able to make positive things happen for them. They scored six runs in the game after Langley instructed them to take until a strike was called.
"I told them to take until we got a strike for the simple reason that we were way ahead of their second pitcher," Langley said. "Once we did that we sat back and started hitting the ball."
Senior Jennifer Britt was big for the Cougars offensively and defensively. She made two great plays at shortstop. One was a diving stop on a ground ball back up the middle and then she made a diving catch behind third base to catch a line drive. Britt was also 4 for 5 with a double at the plate and had an RBI and run scored.
Rhodes added a punch to the offense going 3 for 5 with two RBI's, Logan Thompson had two hits and drove in two runs and Dawson Gould drove in two runs.
"We are putting the ball in play more now and are making things happen for us," Langley said. "We use small ball when we have to and we are getting timely hits. We are hitting the ball a lot better now, because that is something we have worked on lately."
Langley has instructed his team on how important it is to get the big hits when there's runners in scoring position. He has told them to sit back and wait for their pitch and not just chase the first pitch they see. The talk has worked, because they are getting more hits each game then what they had been in the past and they are using the whole field. The Cougars out hit the Rams 12 to seven.
Sydney Gould has come into her own as the ace pitcher. She threw a complete game. She struck out six and walked three. She has learned to make the right pitches at the right times to get opponents out.
Langley said he has been impressed with Sydney Gould for what she has accomplished during her freshman season and how she has handled the pressure of being the main pitcher.
Greene Central defeated the Cougars by 10 runs the first time the two teams met and Langley told his team before the game they could win. All they had to do was go out and play their style of ball.
The Cougars committed two errors and two runs scored off those mistakes, but Langley is pleased with the way his defense has also come around toward the end of the season.
With four games remaining, they need to win at least two of them to be eligible to make the playoffs. If the Cougars win two of them then they could possibly finish tied with Greene Central and force a playoff game or a coin flip to see who makes the playoffs.
The Cougars are back in action tonight when they travel to play North Pitt at 7 p.m.