MURRELLS INLET - St. James did not want to see Brookland-Cayce again in these playoffs. It was easy to see why on Wednesday after the Bearcats cruised to a 12-5 victory in the Class 3A softball playoffs, advancing to the Lower State championship.
Last Saturday, the Sharks stunned Brookland-Cayce, then Class 3A's top-ranked team. But the Bearcats got revenge in the rematch and will meet Darlington for a berth in the state championship series.
"It's not a situation you ask for," St. James coach Adam Jones said. "The pressure was on us to try and beat them again. We played above ourselves the first time. ... You don't ever want to play Brookland-Cayce twice. If you beat them once, you want to get out of town."
In Saturday's win, the Sharks jumped to a 3-1 first-inning lead and pitcher Rebecca Prosser held the Bearcats' potent offense in check. This time, it was Brookland-Cayce putting up the early offense and its starter, Chandler Terrapin, shutting down the opposition.
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The Bearcats led 5-1 after scoring twice in the top of the third inning. St. James would answer with three runs, but none wasearned after a two-out error extended the inning. Singles by Erin Brown and Ashley Shoemaker, a walk by Cyra Cottrell and a two-run double from Hannah Price cut the Bearcats' lead to 5-4.
However, Brookland-Cayce scored a run in the fifth, two in the sixth and added four insurance runs to give the Bearcats a shot at reaching the state championship series for the second consecutive year. They lost to J.L. Mann in the title series in 2009.
St. James finished with seven hits. Only one of them, a two-out triple in the seventh, came after the third inning.
"Chandler wasn't throwing well in that [first loss]," Bearcats coach Richard Lundy said. "She was in the zone tonight."
These teams could see each other again in next year's playoffs. Youth-laden St. James loses one senior starter, and that inexperience may have been what cost them Wednesday.
"All year because of our youth, we played with that excitement and youthful exuberance," said Jones, a first-year coach. "I felt like we just ran out of gas tonight.
"We're extremely young. I took this job three days before tryouts and to be region champs again and district champs again and to make it this far, it's a blessing. After the region and district championships, anything after that was just icing on the cake."
W: Chandler Terrapin (22-4). L: Rebecca Prosser. Leading hitters: Alex White (BC) 3-3 HR, Asia Benn (BC) 3-3, Terrapin 2-2, M.C. Smith (BC) 2-2, Holly Helms (BC) 2-4, Erin Brown (SJ) 2-4. Recs.: BC 29-4; SJ 17-9. Source: BC