HOUSTON – The Vardaman lady Rams came into this season with one goal, win a state championship, and thanks to Saturday's win, they are halfway there.
They took home the North Half Championship in two games over the Wheeler Lady Eagles. The first game, which was played on the road, saw the Lady Rams take the 7-4, and rallying for the 9-5 victory on Saturday.
“Glad we can meet our goals,” said head coach Josh Hegwood with a chuckle after the game. “I'm extremely proud of them to buy into that because, as long as I'm here, that's going to be our goal, to not only get down there, but to win the thing, but it doesn't matter what I want, they've got to buy into that same goal. So, I'm just tickled to death that they bought in.”
The Lady Rams had to move the game from Friday night to Saturday morning, as well as move locations, due to the rains that moved through the area on Friday.
They instead played on the Houston Lady Toppers softball field.
The game was very evenly matched between the two teams, and they traded blows all the way to the final out.
The Lady Rams struck first, however, when Laura Ellen McGreger reached base on a bunt to open the bottom of the third inning. Maddie Terrell was next up with a double, bringing McGreger into scoring position, and then she was brought home on an RBI by Kiersten Perkins, making it 1-0.
This was the only run that they would put up in this inning, but it seemed that the momentum was building in their favor.
However, that all changed in the top of the fourth inning.
A lead off walk set the tone for the rest of the inning, wherein the Lady Eagles put up four runs, taking a 4-1 lead.
This did not take the wind out of the Lady Rams' sails though, as they struck back in the bottom of the inning.
There were two walks issued to start the inning, going to Addie Lucius and Amry Logan.
Saige Williams and McGreger both went down making it a two out situation.
Terrell was intentionally walked, loading the bases.
Perkins then belted an RBI double to bring home two of the runners, making it 4-3.
Makynlie Jones was also intentionally walked, and that brought up Kendrailia Nash, who hammered a ball deep for an RBI triple, making it 6-4, and then Nash herself stole home on a wild pitch, making the score 7-4.
The Lady Eagles managed another run in the top of the fifth with an RBI following the double play turned by Logan at third and Kyleigh Scott at first.
They were able to escape the inning with only the one run though.
The bottom of the sixth saw the Lady Rams tack on the extra runs, and cement their victory.
Terrell and Perkins went down to start the inning, and Jones reached on an error.
Nash was issued a walk and Scott slammed a two run RBI to bring both runners home, bringing it to the final score of 9-5.
However, they still had one inning to go.
With Jones on the mound, Nash caught a fly out to center field for the first out.
Perkins then fielded two consecutive ground balls to end the game and punch their ticket to state.
“I'm so excited,” said Hegwood! “I felt like we had a team that could get us down there this year. With the weather that we had at the beginning of this year, not being able to get on the field a whole lot, I feel like we got better as the weather got better, and I felt like we really had a shot the past couple of weeks to get to this point.”
He said that he is extremely proud of the team's resilience not only in this game, but the entire season.
“We've battled like that all year. We knew that they were going to walk Maddie and Makinlye a good bit and somebody was going to have to step up at some point in time and make a play or get a hit when we needed it and they've done it all year.”
They will hit the road to Hattiesburg to face off against Taylorsville for the 1A state championship.
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