The freshman phenom’s two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh lifted the Lady ’Blazers over Science Hill 3-2 in the District 1-AAA softball winners’ bracket final on Wednesday night at Rotary Field.
Boone, looking for its fifth straight district title, advanced to today’s championship round. The Lady ‘Blazers (34-6) will play Dobyns-Bennett (25-16) in the championship game at 6 p.m. with a second game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. if necessary.The Lady Indians defeated Science Hill 5-2 in the losers’ bracket final.
Jenkins’ walk-off hit gave Boone the victory on a night when starting pitcher McKenzi Ferguson recorded 14 strikeouts and allowed just five hits. Ferguson helped her cause on the offensive end, crushing a home run over deep center field in the bottom of the second inning.
“I just went out to do my best,” Ferguson said. “I knew the team had my back. I wasn’t nervous going into that final half-inning. I knew the girls would step up.”
After Ferguson’s solo shot in the second, Science Hill pulled ahead in the top of the third. Hannah Devotie had an infield single, followed by Megan Devotie’s RBI triple to the corner in right field. Megan Devotie then scored on a wild pitch for a 2-1 Lady ’Topper lead.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh. Kayla Sanders, who finished 3-for-4, got on base with a single and Hannah Montoya was hit by a pitch to set up Jenkins’ walk-off.
“I had a really bad game at the plate. I was 0-for-3,” said Jenkins, a left-handed hitter. “Coming up to the plate, I was like, ‘I think it’s my turn.’ The last time I hit the first pitch and grounded out, so I wasn’t going to hit the first pitch.
“I saw the second pitch coming and when I opened my eyes, I was rounding second base.”
Marissa Honeycutt tossed a four-hitter and added a 3-for-4 effort at the plate to lead the Lady Indians over the Lady ‘Toppers (27-15) in the nightcap.
“She was on and when she’s on, she’s tough,” Dobyns-Bennett head coach Andy Hubbard said. “She did a good job, kept the job down and threw all her pitches. The whole team has worked so hard.
“It would have been easy to ducked our heads after Science Hill beat us the other night. We beat Volunteer in a tough one yesterday and we came back today tired, but we battled.”
Sam Bradley’s RBI single to score Megan Devotie gave Science Hill a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Madi Kilby evened the score for Dobyns-Bennett in the top of fourth with a solo shot over the left-field fence. But, the Lady Indians left the bases loaded later in the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Dobyns-Bennett took the lead with four runs off four hits and three Science Hill errors. Kilby, who ended 2-for-4 with three RBIs, highlighted the outburst with a two-run single.
“Madi was a machine today,” Hubbard said. “She’s just a good hitter. She’s a natural, but she works at it. I was sitting there with the bases loaded thinking there’s nobody in the world I’d rather have up there than her at that point. She doesn’t get nervous, doesn’t gag, and if you’re going to get her out, you’re going to throw a good pitch.”
Hitting up and down the lineup that inning, the Indians got a single from Makayla Frye in the No. 8 spot and a double from Brianna Patterson in the nine-hole.
Down 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Devotie singled and Vanessa Elliott doubled, followed by a sacrifice fly by Emma Martindale for the game’s final run.
“We were resilient after the loss to Boone because that was tough,” Lady ’Toppers head coach Jerry Higgins said. “That was hard. I’m still having trouble with it.”
Both Boone and Dobyns-Bennett advanced to the next week’s Region 1-AAA tournament with their victories.“When we started this year, we said that was one of our main goals to get to regions,” Hubbard said. “Sometimes I didn’t think we would make it because you know how you have ups and downs all year long.
“But, they just battled. I’m proud of them and they did a great job.”