Youthful Blythewood opened the Wildcat Invitational softball tournament with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Cardinal Newman on Friday at the Pine Grove Sports Complex.
The Bengals, who have no juniors or seniors on the varsity roster, rallied from a 5-0 deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth and three more in the bottom of the seventh.
“Even when we were down 5-0, I thought we still had a chance,” said Blythewood coach Bucky Ware, whose team has seven in a row since opening the season with a loss at a preseason tournament to Wren.
“We didn’t do much with the bats for five innings but once the hits started to fall everyone excited. Hitting is contagious and it sure was today for us.”
Blair Murphy launched the Bengals comeback with a leadoff since in the sixth off Cardinal Newman junior left-hander Annalise Hughen who was working on a two-hit shutout. Pinch hitter Michela Wickham drew a walk, but was forced out at second on a grounder off the bat of Katie Chappell. Bailey Newman drove in Murphy for the first Blythewood run with a single. Ansley Gilstrap drove home Chappell with another hit. Newman scored on a ground out by Ellen Cordova.
In the seventh, Lori Owens led off with a bloop hit to right field. Paige Durham put down a bunt, and was safe at first when Cardinal Newman muffed the throw. Murphy singled to score Owens, cutting the deficit to 5-4. Hughen caught Jess Roth looking on a third strike for the first out, but walked Chappell to load the bases. Newman and Gilstrap then followed with back-to-back RBI singles to complete the rally.
Cordova was the winning pitcher in relief of Chappell, working the last two innings without incident.
The Cardinals, who fell to 4-2 with the loss, scored one run in the first on Alex August’s RBI and put four more on the board in the fifth. Faythe Goins had a two-run single, Alex Watson had a RBI hit and the other CN run came on a successful double steal.
Hughen was the hitting star of the game, going 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot and scoring two runs. Newman and Gilstrap both had two hits and two RBIs for the Bengals.
Blythewood has four games on tap Saturday, starting with a 9 a.m. date with former 3A region rival Chester. The Bengals won the tournament consolation bracket championship last season.