White Knoll opened the Class 4A District V softball playoffs with two games that could have gone either way, but the Timberwolves find themselves back in a similar position. They used a 16-hit attack to out-slug Ashley Ridge 10-7 Saturday afternoon at home and move to a district final for the fifth straight season.
The Swamp Foxes will face West Ashley on Monday with the winner playing at White Knoll on Wednesday for the right to move on to the Lower State Championship bracket.
“It’s huge because we get to rest now,” White Knoll coach David Smith said. “We have some people banged up and somebody has to come in here Wednesday and beat us twice. We get to work on some things, and that’s always good.”
After defeating Irmo in eight innings in the playoff opener, it looked as though White Knoll (21-6) would breeze into the district final after scoring in each of the first three innings to build a 6-0 lead. The Timberwolves held a 9-3 lead after four innings but had to hold to the final out. Ashley Ridge got the tying run to the plate in the seventh, but Savannah Terrapin recorded her ninth strikeout to foil the rally.
Senior Lydia Trexler got things going with an RBI double in the first inning, and Ashley Brantley followed one out later with a run-scoring single. The Timberwolves got an unearned run in the second inning before adding three in the third for a 6-0 advantage. Ashley Brantley and Meghan Brantley each scored on wild pitches, and Morgan Holmes came home on an RBI single by Mackenzie Taylor.
It was the start Smith was looking for.
“I thought we were locked in and a lot more focused,” he said. “Our pitch selection was much better. We got some 3-0, 2-1 counts and we locked in on those pitches and hurt them a little bit. We had a lack of discipline (in the first playoff game), but we were focused right from the get-go today.”
Holmes led the hit parade by going 4-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Our mentality was much different today,” Holmes said. “We knew we had to play our game. We didn’t show up the first game, and we came out and played Timberwolves ball like we’re supposed to. We were way more focused and ready to hit.”
Terrapin (15-3) was cruising through the first 32/3 innings but allowed three runs in the fourth when the Swamp Foxes put together four straight singles with two outs. The final one was a two-run base hit by Kelly Cousins to make it 6-3.
The veteran senior pitcher allowed 10 hits with three walks — two intentional — and a hit batter.
But the Timberwolves answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to push the lead back to six runs. Kelsey Campbell and Meghan Brantley delivered the run-scoring hits in the frame.
The Swamp Foxes rallied with four runs in the fifth and had runners on first and second when Terrapin got out of the jam with a strikeout and still held a two-run cushion.
Megan Anderson added an insurance run in the fifth with a solo home run and Terrapin did the rest to give White Knoll control of the District V bracket.
“We’re up 6-0 and 9-3 and everything is going smooth and then things get interesting,” Smith said. “At this point, you know you will be facing a good softball team. Credit Ashley Ridge, they do a great job and they fought back and made it way too interesting for my liking.”
W: Savannah Terrapin (15-3). L: Kendall Zeski. Hitters: AR – Sara Butler 2-2, Sierra Robinette 2-4, Nicki Young 2-4, Anika Ponton 2-3. WK – Megan Anderson 2-4, Kelsey Campbell 2-4, Ashley Brantley 2-4, Meghan Brantley 2-4, Morgan Holmes 4-4, Mackenzie Taylor 2-3.