The Union County softball team demonstrated just how tough it is to beat a team with tradition Thursday.
Already up by three, Hagerstown added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
It didn’t matter.
Patriot junior Brooke Reiboldt hit her second home run of the ballgame in the seventh, a three-run shot that helped erase the five-run deficit, before a slap single from Maria Duckworth gave Union County an 8-7, walk-off victory in eight innings.
“I was really nervous. I knew that we needed the hits. I knew that the people behind me could do it, but I wanted to get us into winning the game, and I just told myself I could do this and looked to the sky, prayed and I hit the ball,” Reiboldt said of her second shot.
“At first I thought it was a pop-up … then my coach told me it went out and I was really excited. I was screaming. It felt really good to help our team.”
Duckworth, Tanner Henry, Madison Walters, Reiboldt and Shelby Sharpe all crossed the plate that inning.
Krista Hofer and Sharpe led off the bottom of the eighth with back-to-back singles.
Already with two singles on the day, junior Duckworth slapped a base hit past second baseman Courtney Rogers, who was on her way to cover first on what looked to be a bunt attempt.
“I don’t want to say that we necessarily set that up, but (Duckworth) had been soft-slapping all day,” Union County coach Scott Gray said. “You saw the first baseman come up, you saw the second baseman start to cheat and come this way and (Duckworth) hit it exactly where she should’ve.
“Slapping is new for her. She tried it when she was younger … we decided, ‘Hey, you’ve got great speed, let’s make you a slapper,’ and so far, her on-base percentage this year has been over .500, so we can’t complain too much.”
The Patriots got an early lead with a first-inning RBI double from Walters, then led 2-0 on Reiboldt’s first home run in the fourth.
The Tigers had a five-run inning of their own as they batted around in the fifth.
Megan Johnson and Rogers started with back-to-back doubles, with pinch-runner Lacey Moore, Amanda Thackrey, Morgan Masters, Cara Brown and Gabby Willis all crossing the plate for the Tigers.
It’s the fourth one-run game for both teams, as Hagerstown fell to 1-4 and the Patriots move over .500 for the first time this season at 3-2.
“I was telling these girls, ‘There’s nothing to be ashamed of today.’ We scored five in one inning; they scored five in one inning. Theirs just happened to be in the seventh,” Hagerstown coach Chuck Green said. ” … I think if we keep playing like we’ve played lately, the wins are going to come. … I believe that (the Tigers) are going to make a turnaround. We’re going to get some of those games where we’re going to win those one-run games, and we’ll have those. I believe in them, I believe in those girls.”
The seven-time Tri-Eastern Conference and reigning regional champion Patriots moved to 1-0 in TEC play.
” … I think it does go back to tradition,” Gray said. “I think the fact that we are an established program … we make sure our kids know … ‘Hey, you’ve got expectations to live up to’ (and) I think it makes them play harder, it makes them focus more.”
Duckworth led the Patriots with three hits, while Reiboldt, Henry and Sharpe each had two.
Erin Hoodlebrink had two hits and three RBIs to lead the Tigers, while Masters also had two hits.
Franklin struck out 10 from the circle to earn the win, while Madison Houck had six K’s for Hagerstown.