NORTON — Most coaches know better than to argue balls and strikes with umpire John Wayne Martin.
Martin, in turn, knows better than to argue lightning strikes.
A spectacular bolt from the blue striking a nearby mountain halted play in Wednesday’s Lonesome Pine District softball tournament finals at J.I. Burton.
The championship game, which is slated to resume at 4 p.m. today, was suspended with the Lady Raiders leading Wise Central 3-0.
The first flashes occurred after Burton’s Cassie Paige got on board with a single.
The Lady Raiders had been generating some thunder of their own. A two-run homer by Jaz Bay in the third gave Burton a 3-0 lead over the regular season champs. Pitcher Tiffany Cole had a shutout going.
“Aw, man. We’d like to get this one in. We’ve got the momentum,” said Lady Raiders coach Jon Bright while the umpires and LPD officials discussed the situation.
A booming cloud-to-ground arc ended the discussion. Both dugouts emptied as the players scrambled through the pelting rain to safer havens.
Wednesday’s earlier game set the upset precedent as Clintwood upended district runner-up Union 4-3 in consolation play.
“I’ve told them all year long that nobody cares what we did last year. Nobody gives a hoot. Maybe that’s finally sinking in,” said Clintwood coach David Vanover, whose team won last year’s Region D, Division 1 title. “Today was probably our first quality win against a team we weren’t supposed to beat.”
The game was tied up 1-1 after 3 1/2 innings when that game was suspended for an hour and five minutes due to lightning.
The Lady Bears (14-7) pulled ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Hannah Dysart singled and stole second, going on to score when Kelsey Conley’s throw from behind the plate went wide of the mark, an error compounded by a back-up mistake in the outfield.
Union put more pressure on the Lady Greenwave in the bottom of the fifth when Sydney McKinney rapped into an error at short. One out later, Brandee Childress singled and subsequently moved into scoring position with McKinney at third.
Clintwood pitcher Erika Counts (10-10) left both runners stranded, however, going on to retire the Lady Bears in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
Counts helped her cause with a two-RBI single in the sixth to give Clintwood the 3-2 go-ahead. Conley led off the seventh with a double and scored on Taylor Fleming’s groundout. Saydee Yates had two hits for Clintwood (10-12).