Cowan senior pitcher Shelby Wilcoxon described the last 48 hours as the longest of her life.
Wilcoxon finally toed the rubber Friday afternoon to complete what she started on Wednesday against Liberty Christian in the semifinals of the Class A Liberty Christian softball sectional.
The umpires halted the game two days earlier with the No 4 Blackhawks nursing a 2-1 lead and the Lions threatening in the top of the seventh with two runners on and only one out. Rain then prevented the two teams from resuming play Thursday, so Wilcoxon returned to the circle Friday with her nerves wound tight.
“I had people texting me all the time that this could happen or this could happen, in this situation we’ll do this,” Wilcoxon said. “It was overwhelming. I couldn’t sleep.”
Wilcoxon overcame her anxiety to retire the two Lions and preserve the 2-1 semifinal victory. She then followed that up 45 minutes later with a three-hit shutout against Southern Wells in an anti-climactic championship game that Cowan won 10-0 in six innings.
The Blackhawks took 48 hours to put the Lions away in the semifinal. Cowan disposed of Southern Wells in just four at-bats.
Makayla Keating drew a leadoff walk and Sara Masters followed with a home run to put the Blackhawks up 2-0 just two batters into the game. Mallory Bruner then hit a double and clean-up hitter Allie McCreery belted a two-run homer of her own to double the lead to 4-0.
“We call ourselves the comeback team, because usually it’s like the last inning when we come back and get our runs, but starting off with those (four) runs was huge and just a motivation starter,” Masters said.
Masters turned the game into her own personal home-run derby. She followed her first-inning blast with another two-run homer in the second inning and then a solo shot in the fourth. Her second home run cleared the left-field fence by about 60 feet and nearly hit some parked vehicles. She hit her solo shot to straightaway center and that traveled a bit farther, clearing the fence by roughly 70 feet.
The Cowan sophomore catcher took the field Friday in a bit of a hitting slump, but she said she is back to her old self after hitting three home runs and driving in five runs in only three at-bats against Southern Wells.
“It’s about time she came back,” Wilcoxon said. “She has been struggling. She’s still been hitting well, but in her mind she’s been struggling. I’m so glad that she can finally get her confidence back.”
Cowan coach Jeff Berger turned out to be the only one in the ballpark capable of stopping Masters. He pinch-hit for her in the sixth with the Blackhawks up 8-0. Berger brought in pinch hitters for four of his five batters in the frame and the Blackhawks still managed to score two runs to enact the 10-run rule.
The Blackhawks (21-9) are one of 16 teams remaining in the Class A state tournament. Cowan plays at Randolph Southern at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the regional round. The winner advances to the Clinton Prairie semistate next Saturday.