Sumter earned a Class 4A District V softball title shot today at White Knoll by storming from behind for a 3-2 win to eliminate Berkeley on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks (17-10), who fell into the district loser’s bracket after dropping a 1-0 decision to the Stags and pitcher Taylor Luff in the first round, got revenge in the more meaningful game. But it was by no means an easy task.
Sumter took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Robbi Winfield’s RBI single to score Morgan Mixon. Berkeley went ahead in the top of the sixth on Hannah Cato’s two-run single off Gamecocks ace Sutton Watson, who allowed only three Berkeley hits.
Down to three outs, Sumter needed at least one run in the bottom of the seventh off Luff to avoid elimination. Instead, the Gamecocks scored two on four hits off the Stags right-hander. It all began when a sinking liner to center field by Erin Cook turned into a triple when the Berkeley center fielder failed to come up with a diving catch. Mixon promptly drove home Cook with the equalized. Watson, who had three hits off her counterpart in the circle, and Alex Cataldo followed with safeties to load the bases with no outs.
Luff nearly avoiding a complete loss by retiring the next two Sumter batters, but on her second offering to Gamecock Catherine Ortmann she uncorked a wild pitch. Mixon dashed home, and slid safely under the tag to extend Sumter’s season for at least one more game.
The Gamecocks must win two games against the Region 5-4A champion Timberwolves to advance to the Elite Eight phase of the playoffs. Sumter came through the loser’s bracket to rate a Lower State tournament invitation in 2007, beating Spring Valley two times on the road in the finals. Sutton and Mixon were starters on that team.
Watson finished with 11 strikeouts and three walks.