MURFREESBORO – When Siegel designated hitter Eleiyah Wade fell behind 0-2 in the count in the bottom of the 10th inning against Hardin Valley Academy Tuesday night, she thought her at-bat would end quickly.
Thankfully for the Lady Stars, she was wrong.
After battling back to get the count to 2-2, Wade laced a single to right field that scored the game-winning run by pinch runner Brittany Hall to secure a 3-2 extra-inning, walk-off win for Siegel against the Hawks in the opening round of the Class AAA state tournament.
“I thought I was going to strike out at first,” Wade said. “Then I calmed down a little bit and knew I just needed a base hit. So, I just tried to put the ball in play.”
It was Siegel’s second victory in its past three games that lasted until at the least the 10th inning. The Lady Stars defeated Coffee County in the Region 4-AAA championship May 13 in 12 innings.
“I knew we had been in that situation before against Coffee County,” Siegel coach Perry Lyons said. “I just kept hoping we would get a breakthrough on the hits. We were getting girls on; we just weren’t getting the timely hits.
“We finally got that timely hit.”
The win advanced Siegel into the winners bracket semifinals. The Lady Stars will play Wilson Central, which defeated Collierville 11-1 on Tuesday, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday with a berth in the winners bracket final on the line.
It will be Siegel’s second-ever appearance in the winners bracket semifinals. The team last did it in 2009 before finishing in fourth place in its only other appearance in the state tournament.
“It was very important,” Lyons said about starting the double-elimination tournament with a win. “You want to win that first game so that you don’t have to scratch and claw out of that losers bracket.”
Wade’s game-winning hit came after international tiebreaker rules — starting each inning with a runner on second base — were implemented in the top of 10th frame.
Hall started on second base and was quickly moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt.
That brought Wade to the plate, where she fell behind early before coming up the game-winning base hit.
“I was kind of nervous at first because she was kind of throwing me a little bit inside,” Wade said. “I fouled one off, and then she threw me outside and I was like, ‘I’m about to hit it.’
“She threw it outside again, and I just hit it down the line.”
Siegel never trailed in the game and got its scoring started early in the bottom of the first inning when shortstop Cierra Purvis, whom Lyons said played excellent defense in the win, scored on first baseman’s Cede Loftis single to center field for a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Stars added their second run in the bottom of the second when Wade scored on an error by Hardin Valley shortstop Leslie Beecham for a 2-0 advantage.
The Hawks committed eight errors in the loss, as none of Siegel’s runs was earned in the contest.
Hardin Valley tied the game in the top of the fourth inning when designated hitter Jodie Parham hit a two-RBI double to center field after the Hawks loaded the bases.
Pitcher Veronica Westfall earned the complete-game victory for Siegel, striking out nine and allowing just four hits in 10 innings pitched.
Kaliegh Wynne took the loss for Hardin Valley, which will play Collierville in an elimination contest at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Siegel 3, Hardin Valley 2 (10 innings)
Hardin Valley – 000 200 000 0 – 2 4 8
Siegel – 110 000 000 1 – 3 8 0
Kaliegh Wynne and Sydney Dukes. Veronica Westfall and KaraLynn Levi.
Contact Will Borthick at 615-278-516. Follow him on Twitter @willborthick.