The White Knoll softball team was ready for round two in its rematch with Byrnes, and delivered the knockout blow Thursday night.
The Timberwolves jumped out to a 4-0 lead and defeated the Rebels 6-2 to sweep the best-of-three Class 5A championship series. It was White Knoll’s first title in school history and it was first softball title for a Midlands public school since Lexington won it all in 2001.
White Knoll lost in three games to Byrnes last season, which was a driving force for the team as it began the year. There were signs and T-shirts made with Round 2 on them, and the Timberwolves were a much more confident group in the rematch.
“Words can’t describe how we feel right now,” White Knoll coach April Farr said. “Last year, it stayed a little bitter with us losing that lead in that last game. Our whole thing was to finish, and you heard that chant a lot. We were just determined, and I could just feel this time they were going to work their butts off and go get it.”
“We have been reminded of last year ever since we started the first day of fall practice,” Ginna Leaphart said. “So all our hard work really paid off.”
The Timberwolves had to go through the loser’s bracket in the Lower State tournament and win twice at Ashley Ridge, including the deciding game on Hannah Goodwin’s walkoff homer to put them in the championship game.
White Knoll won the opener Monday and jumped to 1-0 lead in the first on Leaphart’s sacrifice fly.
The Timberwolves had a chance to extend the lead in the fourth, loading the bases with no outs, but couldn’t push a run across. In the bottom of the fourth, Byrnes loaded the bases with no outs, but Andrea Lyon struck out the next three batters to end the threat. Lyon struck out eight and finished with 294 punch-outs on the season.
“That was really big,” Lyon said. “They are a good hitting team, and holding them with no runs that inning was amazing.”
White Knoll carried its momentum from the bottom of fourth and put three runs on the board in the top of the fifth. Leaphart had an RBI single and then Lyon hit a two-run homer to make it 4-0.
Goodwin, Libby Williams, Lexi Winter and Shelby Davies each had two hits for the Timberwolves.
Byrnes answered with two in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 4-2. The Timberwolves added two more in the top of the sixth on Hannah Goodwin’s sac fly and a Rebels error.
The Rebels brought the tying run on deck in the bottom of the seventh, but Lyon struck out the final batter and celebration ensued with the chants of “Round 2, Round 2” echoing after they had the state title trophy in their hands.
“Round two was our theme this year,” Farr said. “We were going to come back strong and weren’t going to be KO'd this time.”