GLASGOW – Not many batters have hit a ball to the wall against Laurel pitcher Regan Green.
Caravel’s Katrina Conner did it Friday night. But the Bulldogs’ defense bailed out their pitcher, getting the ball back home in time to keep the tying run from scoring. Then Green struck out the final batter to complete a two-hit shutout as Laurel edged Caravel 1-0.
It was a rematch of last year’s DIAA softball championship game, when Green struck out 13 and allowed two hits in a 3-0 victory. This time, the right-hander fanned 15. But the Buccaneers struck a mighty blow in the bottom of the seventh.
Nikki Marcon drew a one-out walk, and Green struck out the next batter. Then Conner sent a jolt into the night sky that took one hop and nestled against the fence.
Laurel center fielder Brittany Woods chased it down, then turned and fired to Kortney Lee. The shortstop wheeled and threw to catcher Sara Jo Whaley as Marcon rounded third. Whaley threw back to third, but Marcon was able to scramble back safely.
“I just knew that it was a shot, and I had to do whatever I had to do to recover to get that ball in,” Woods said. “We do drills with that every day, and that helped me big time.”
Conner went to second on the relay throw, and Emily Holmes came in to run for her. The Buccaneers were one swing away from a potential game-winning hit.
But Green would have none of it. The Mississippi State signee struck out the last batter on three pitches, the second one a devastating changeup that made her final fastball look even faster.
“We’ve been working on that,” said Laurel coach Jodi Green, Regan’s mother. “She knows she’s going to have to have [the changeup] if she’s going to the SEC next year. That’s been her main goal this year, to work on that.”
It looked sharp Friday night. And so did the Laurel defense when it was needed most.
“I knew my team would have my back,” Regan Green said. “I knew they would get it in, and they did.”
The second-ranked Bulldogs (6-1) scored the only run of the game in the sixth. No. 6 hitter Natalie Culver’s second single of the game drove in Regan Green, who reached on an error.
“She had two hits, and that was good,” Jodi Green said of Culver. “They’re all contributing, and that’s what we need. For a while there, the bottom of our lineup wasn’t getting into it. But now they are. We need that.”
The Buccaneers have won nine state championships, but fell to 2-4 this year against an extraordinarily tough schedule. Caravel lost 3-2 to top-ranked Delmar, and also fell to two of the top teams in New Jersey.
“[Regan Green] is tough. If you’re gonna win the states, you’re gonna have to go through her,” Caravel coach Tony Peterson said. “I think we’re a good softball team. We’ve played some very good, quality teams, and hopefully it helps us down the road.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ
LAUREL 1, CARAVEL 0
Laurel 000 001 0 – 1 7 0
Caravel 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
Green and Whaley. Brooks and Swank. W – Green. L – Brooks.