Stephanie Harris knew Lambert would rather face her than teammate Meghan Rud, so she was determined to make them pay.
With South trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Emily Harris representing the tying run on third, Lambert elected to walk Rud and sent Harris to the plate. Harris took a first-pitch ball as Rud stole second, her fourth stolen base of the game, and then pounced.
The junior smashed a 1-0 pitch back up the middle to allow both runs to score and gave South a 5-4 walk-off victory on Monday at War Eagle Field.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit that I could get up the middle,” Harris said, “because there was a big hole out there and I knew I just needed to get it to the outfield [because] I knew Meghan would score.”
South’s (4-0, 2-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) last-inning theatrics were almost unnecessary, as freshman pitcher Katherine Huey (complete game, four earned runs, five hits, four walks) touted a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings before the Lambert bats came to life with South ahead 3-0.
Savannah Huffstetler hit an infield single past the shortstop to break up the no-hit bid before Jenny Barto and Marissa Guimbarda singled to load the bases. Megan Whitlatch grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Barto scored to trim the lead to two.
Lambert (6-1, 1-1) continued to find its groove at the plate in the top of the seventh with three runs. Megan Walz hit a bases-loaded double to center field, plating Sydnie Smith and Kaitlin Halloway. The Longhorns then took a 4-3 lead after Macy Stovall was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, but South limited the damage and got out of the inning with a lineout to second.
The Lady Longhorns’ Kassie Howard (6 2/3 innings, five earned runs, eight hits, three walks) forced a pop out to start the bottom half of the frame and got South’s Amy Kilmer out in a base-running error after Emily Harris doubled and moved to third, but she couldn’t get the third out, as the Lady War Eagles rallied behind Rud and Stephanie Harris (2-for-3, three RBIs).
“One thing our kids do is they never give up,” South head coach Ronnie Davis said. “They never hung their head and it gave them an opportunity. I told them right after we came in [the seventh inning] that somebody’s got to step up. …I knew they’d pitch around Rud and there we have it. She came through with a big hit.”
South jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI bunt from Sarah Nelms (2-for-3) to score Rud (2-for-3, three runs, four stolen bases) and an RBI groundout from Natalie Strandquist. The Lady War Eagles added another in the second on Harris’ single to left.
“South is always a good team and they play a full seven innings, so it’s a building day,” Lambert head coach Dana Corr said. “It stinks. You always want to win, especially against a regionopponent, but starting tomorrow we won’t think anything about it and move on.”
South will play at home against Chattahoochee on Thursday, while Lambert will host Alpharetta.