High School Sports

Notebook: 4A softball playoffs

White Knoll and Irmo are sitting in the driver’s seat in their respective Class 4A district playoffs brackets, and are awaiting their opponents for Wednesday’s championship round with Elite Eight invitations at stake.

White Knoll advanced to the Class 4A District V finals by nipping Berkeley 1-0 in a nine-inning thriller on Saturday. Pitcher Shelley Jeffcoat is off to a great start, tossing two shutouts while striking out 25 in 16 innings of work. Sara Eisenhower scored the only run of the game, and Jeffcoat had 14 strikeouts while improving her season record to 17-4 and upping he whiff count to 202. The Timberwolves opened the playoffs with a 7-0 win vs. West Ashley. Jeffcoat fired a two-hitter with 11 Ks. Eisenhower was the offensive headliner, going 1-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs.

Irmo, a No. 4 seed in 4A District VIII, stunned Region 8-4A champion Summerville 6-4 on Thursday in the first round, and then nipped Hartsville 4-3 on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets finally rate a home game against either Wando or Hartsville on Wednesday.

Amanda Evans was the winning pitcher in both games. At Summerville, the Yellow Jackets bats awoke. Lindsay Cruz went 3-for-4 with a double and one RBI, Melissa Britt was 2-for-3 with one RBI, Kaitlyn White went 2-doe-3 with one RBI and Katie Bowman had two key sacrifice bunts.

At Hartsville, the Jackets then pulled out a dramatic 4-3 second-round win. Evans avoided early disaster by getting out of bases-load jams unscathed in the first and third innings. Irmo took a 3-1 lead in the sixth when White crossed on an error and Caitlin Vaughn ripped a two-run single to score Chelsey Burkett and Evans. Hartsville rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh, and was on the verge of winning with runners on second and third base when right-fielder Britt saved the day by gunning down a Red Foxes hitter at first base for the last out after the batter had ripped a hit directly at her. Irmo pushed across the winner in the eighth when Cruz doubled to plate Evans.

Elsewhere, Blythewood, Sumter, Lexington and Spring Valley all must win on Monday to stay alive.

Blythewood opened the 4A District IV tournament in grand style with a 10-0 win over Fort Mill in its first-ever 4A playoff game on Thursday. Megan Marsh fired a six-inning no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and two walks against the visiting Yellow Jackets, and also belted her first home run of the season. Kelly Owens went 3-for-4 with two triples and Tiffany Harris also went 3-for-4, ending the game in the bottom of the sixth with a run-scoring double. The Bengals, however, suffered an 8-1 home loss to traditional power Hillcrest in second-round action on Friday. Blythewood hosts Laurens, a 5-4 second-round winner over Fort Mill, in tonight’s do-or-die outing.

Sumter bounced back from a tough, 1-0 District V first-round loss to Berkeley to thrash West Ashley 10-0 in a loser-s bracket game on Friday. Courtney Buckner had a big offensive showing for the Gamecocks, going 2-for-2 with two runs and three RBIs. Sutton Watson tossed a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks. The win earned Sumter a rematch with Berkeley and pitcher Taylor Luff, who scattered seven hits and fanned seven in her first duel with Watson, who fanned 11, allowed seven hits and gave up an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning. Luff fell 1-0 to No. 1 seed White Knoll on Friday.

Lexington’s 6-1 loss in Goose Creek to No. 1 Stratford on Friday, doomed the Wildcats to another long road trip to Walterboro and a rematch with Colleton County. Lexington prevailed 2-1 over the host Cougars in the first-round of District VII play behind the picking of sophomore Sarah Parks.

Spring Valley rebounded from a tough 3-2 road loss to Nation Ford on Thursday to send Dorman packing with a 10-0 at home on Saturday. Morgan Baker, the tough-luck loser in the circle in the opener, had a five-inning shutout and went 2-for-3 with a double at the plate. The reward is another trek to Fort Mill and a rematch tonight vs. Nation Ford.

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