The Lexington softball team wasn’t going to let this lead slip away.
After blowing a five-run lead in the Class 5A championship opener Monday, the Wildcats bounced back with a 5-1 win over Byrnes on Wednesday night.
The win forces a deciding game Friday at Northwestern High School beginning at 7 p.m. Lexington is looking for its first state title since 2001.
“I knew they were resilient and they have handled adversity all year long,” Lexington coach Laurie Epps said. “Last time we lost, we came back and won sixteen straight. We are going to get after it in practice tomorrow and hopefully take it home Friday.”
Epps said she didn’t give her team any big speech after Monday’s loss in which Byrnes scored nine runs in the sixth to win 12-8. The team stayed loose even after Monday’s loss getting on the bus and played relaxed in game two.
Future Division I players Hannah Kumiyama and Allie Light had big nights to help keep Lexington’s season alive. Kumiyama, a South Carolina signee, was 2-for-2 with a homer and three RBIs and reached base all four times.
“Tonight was the night we had to show them who we were,” Kumiyama said. “We knew that we could finish a game. That just wasn’t us in the last couple innings. (Monday). I think we came out and showed who we were tonight.”
Light, the junior Arkansas commit, bounced back from a rough outing in game one and tossed a complete game. She allowed one run on six hits and struck out seven.
“Coach Epps always said make sure you are bigger than the moment and don’t let the moment be bigger than you,” said Light, who threw 87 of 125 pitches for strikes. “The whole time I was talking to my team and talking to my girls and was like ‘hey be bigger than this, it’s not bigger than us.”
As it did in game one, Lexington started strong. The Wildcats scored twice in the first on Sarah Gordon’s RBI double and Jessica Senn’s RBI single to make it 2-0. Gordon had two hits in the game.
Lexington added one in the second and then Kumiyama hit a two-run homer to left-center to put the Wildcats up 5-0 after four. It was the senior’s 16th homer of the season.
The Wildcats also played better defense, committing just one error after four on Monday. Left fielder Jaci Fleming turned in a strong throw to get a runner trying to score in the fourth.
Kasey Widmyer had a solo homer in the fifth for Byrnes’ only run. Widmyer took the loss on the mound, giving up three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
WP: Allie Light LP: Widmyer Hitters: L: Hannah Kumiyama 2-2 HR, 3 RBI; Sarah Gordon 2-3 RBI; Jessica Senn 1-3 RBI