Magic, or something of the sort, was afoot on Wednesday night at Dutch Fork and Swansea where the host Silver Foxes and Tigers stayed alive in the softball state playoffs with dramatic wins.
Dutch Fork stayed in the hunt for the Class 4A Lower State title by nipping Summerville 1-0 behind a stellar performance by freshman Hayley Elkins. Both teams managed just one hit apiece, but Elkins made the lone DF safety count – smacking a home run in the seventh inning to win the game and keep the season alive.
Elkins struck out four and issued no walks to gain the decision in the circle. Summerville’s Malori Myers was nearly as good, except for the one big hit. Myers finished with nine strikeouts.
Dutch Fork (19-11-1) travels to face North Augusta in the Lower State final on Friday at Riverview Park. The Foxes dropped a 3-2 decision to the Yellow Jackets in the second round on Monday. DF needs two wins to advance to the state championship series next week.
Meanwhile, Swansea and Silver Bluff had their second epic struggle if five days. The site was the same, as was the outcome in eight innings of ebb and flow action. But the Tigers 11-10 win that sent the Region 5 rival Bulldogs packing on Wednesday was even more dramatic than the 7-6 triumph on Saturday that kicked off the Class 2A Lower State tournament.
On Saturday, Silver Bluff forced extra inning for a two-out seventh inning rally, only to see Swansea get the winning hit with two outs in the eighth by Brittany Nelums. Last night, the Tigers trailed 8-1 early, rallied to tie the score by the sixth and got the game-winning hit by Nelums in the eighth frame again.
Haley Mack’s two-out single kept things going in the eighth, and she scored on Nelums’ double to right-center field. Nelums and Mack both had four hits in the game, and Nelums also had four RBIs.
“In my ten years as the coach here, I’ve never been part of a comeback like that one,” said Tigers coach Marty Mack.
“After we had five errors and gave up eight runs in the fourth inning, I told the girls that the only thing they could do was to keep playing, told them not to quit.”
Swansea (17-9) travels to face Region 5 champion Barnwell in the Lower State finale on Friday needing two wins to advance to the state championship series for the first time since 1997.
Barnwell has a 2-1 edge vs. the Tigers, who handed the Warhorses their only loss on the way to the Region 5 pennant – a 3-0 decision on March 22. Barnwell tripped the Tigers 8-4 in second-round play on Monday.