With her team’s season on the line, Andrea Lyon did her best to stay composed, and it showed in the game’s biggest moment.
The White Knoll junior pitcher worked her way out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh to help the Timberwolves hold on for a 4-3 win against Byrnes on Wednesday to even the Class 5A best-of-three softball championship series.
The deciding game will be Friday at Clinton High School with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. White Knoll is looking for its first state title.
“She was bound and determined to be different,” White Knoll coach April Farr said of Lyon. “You could see she was focused through the whole game. She didn’t get rattled and just went after it. She did a great job.”
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Lyon, who was roughed up in the series opener, picked up her 26th victory of the season, but it wasn’t easy.
With White Knoll (28-3) leading 4-3, Hayden Bradley led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and Lyon walked Haylee Whitesides. White Knoll was able to get Bradley out at third for the first out as Kassie Rimel reached on a fielder’s choice.
But Lyon got the next two batters, Tatum Arboleda and Christa Whitesides, to fly out, ending the game.
“My dad and my coaches always told me just to focus on one pitch, and that’s what I did,” Lyon said. “And my defense had me.”
Lyon allowed one earned run on six hits, walked one and struck out one.
Ginna Leaphart and Hannah Goodwin each had three hits for the Timberwolves, who finished with 10 after mustering two in the opener.
Trailing 2-1 going into the fifth inning, White Knoll took its first lead of the series. With one out, Ariel Johnson and Goodwin hit back-to-back singles. Then, Leaphart’s single scored Johnson to tie it at 2.
With two outs, third baseman Madison Miller ripped a single in the right-center field gap to score Goodwin and Leaphart and put White Knoll up 4-2. It was Miller’s second big hit in the past week, as she hit a walk-off homer to clinch the lower state championship Friday.
Miller also made a big defensive play in the bottom of the sixth as she snared Parker Birch’s line drive and doubled off potential-tying run Amber Campbell to end the inning.
“I told them at practice yesterday that we were going to come out and fight and show them the team we have been all year,” Farr said. “I was so proud of them, fighting through adversity when they would score a run. That’s how we play. We hung in there to the end. That’s what we do.”
This is the second straight year Byrnes lost game two after winning the opener. The Rebels dropped the deciding game to Stratford last year.
Haven Pesce led Byrnes (24-6) with two hits. Kasey Widmyer took the loss.