DUDLEY - Each time J.H. Rose threw a punch Wednesday afternoon, Southern Wayne answered.
The Eastern Carolina 3A-4A softball rivals battled through three ties and four lead changes before the Saints sent the Rampants reeling in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Rose regained a little bit of its composure, but Southern Wayne held on for a 12-8, season-ending victory.
“I was really proud of them for not leaving our runners in scoring position, especially with two outs,” fifth-year SW head coach Jamie Williams.
“It showed their fight. They weren’t willing to take ‘no’ for an answer. They just showed so much promise for next year because the girls who did are mostly underclassmen.”
Six of nine starters provided at least one hit for the Saints, who filed their best ECC worksheet (5-7) during Williams’ tenure in the dugout. Second baseman Katie Toler stuffed her offensive stat sheet with three hits, two stolen bases, three RBI and three runs scored.
Winning pitcher Layla Rackley contributed two hits, two RBI and a stolen base. The Saints (5-7 overall) swiped nine bases in 11 attempts on the day.
Allie Lane, Abbey Parker (two RBI), Anna Summerlin and catcher Gracie Hinson provided one hit apiece. The quartet combined to score seven runs.
“Layla in the circle, she had quite a few walks, but she fought and did a good job,” Williams said. “[As a team] we did a lot of the little things good tonight.”
Senior pitcher Jalexis Terry gave the Rampants their final lead, 3-2, with a two-RBI single up the middle in the third. Abbey Parker pushed the Saints ahead with a two-RBI single.
Rose tied the game at 4-4 in the fourth.
Southern Wayne stormed ahead 9-4 on Katie Toler’s RBI single, Layla Rackley’s two-RBI double, a wild pitch and an errant throw in the bottom of the fourth.
The Rampants closed to within 9-7 before the Saints added three insurance runs to polish off a regular-season sweep. SW has won all 14 meetings in the series, which started eight years ago.
Before the game, Williams recognized her two seniors - Parker and outfielder Madison Holmes.
“It is bittersweet,” Williams said. “For it to be a short season, it felt like a really long season. This was by far the most coachable, most talented group of girls I’ve had since I’ve been here. Position by position…the potential and talent is so good.
“Using the word irreplaceable is a big word to use, but their roles that they played as players, as leaders, they have pretty big shoes to fill as leaders.”