Season on the line.
That sums up the pressure on Lynn's Brooklyn Beck’s shoulders as she walked to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning against Sumiton Christian during their game at the State Softball Tournament Friday at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
The senior made the most of the moment.
With Reagan Tittle representing the game-winning run at second base, Beck hit a single to the outfield, sending Tittle sliding home for a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Eagles.
It was the perfect ending for the Bears. There was just one problem, it wasn't the end.
Lynn’s win came in the state semifinals.
The Bears still had to get past Brantley twice on Friday night to earn a state championship.
With a short turnaround after their emotional win, the Bears were no match for Brantley as the Bulldogs finished off Lynn 4-0 for their first ever state softball title.
Even after the championship game loss, it was the victory over Sumiton Christian that stuck with Lynn coach Philip Smith.
“I told the girls that was probably the most exciting game I’ve seen in a big-time atmosphere,” Smith said. “I turned around and there were 500 people watching the game.”
Both teams held the lead before the seventh inning. Sumiton Christian was up 4-1 early and the Bears battled back for a 6-4 lead before Sumiton Christian notched the score in the sixth.
“When they jumped on us, we could have given up, but we fought back. When we came up to bat in the last inning I had a feeling we were going to win the game. Sure enough, we did what it took,” Smith said.
“We talked all year about who would be the one to get that hit or make that play. That was probably the biggest hit of Brooklyn’s career. It was a fantastic game. It’s one you will remember forever. I do believe it’s as big a win as I’ve been a part of just because of the situation.”
Following the victory, Lynn had less than 15 minutes before stepping on the field against Brantley.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the third inning and never let Lynn put together a rally.
“I feel like that Sumiton Christian game took a lot out of us. We weren’t able to get back on top. A lot of that had to do with the girl Brantley had on the mound, and a lot of it had to do with us coming off that win,” Smith added.
The Bears finished as the state runner up for the second time in school history. Lynn also placed second behind Ragland in 2010.
“I know it hurts right now, but I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. When you go through a game where you are living or dying with every pitch, it’s rough on you mentally. It’s rough on the coaches, the players and the parents. But to see their faces after we scored the winning run was great,” Smith said.
Sumiton Christian took third in Class 1A after dropping its final game to Lynn.
Lynn’s Reagan Tittle, Mack Tidwell and Tiffany Self were named to the Class 1A All-State Tournament Team along with Sumiton Christian’s Kendall Beth Sides.
Brantley 4, Lynn 0
The Brantley Bulldogs captured the Class 1A state title following a 4-0 win over the Lynn Bears.
After two scoreless innings, the Bulldogs put a run on the board in the bottom of the third inning, followed by two runs in the fifth inning and a run in the sixth inning to reach the 4-0 final.
Tidwell pitch three and two-thirds innings for Lynn, giving up four hits, a run, three walks and striking out four batters. Self pitched two and one-third innings, giving up two hits, three runs, two walks and striking out two batters.
Offensively, Beck and Tittle were 1 for 3, with Beck also recording a double. Self and Tidwell both went 1 for 2.
Lynn 7, Sumiton Christian 6
The Sumiton Christian Eagles had gotten the best of Lynn during the season, winning four of their previous five meetings.
However, the sixth meeting, by far the most important of the year, belonged to the Bears.
Deadlocked at 6-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Beck knocked in Tittle for the winning run to clinch the 7-6 final and propel the Bears into the Class 1A championship game.
Unlike most encounters throughout 2014 where one team gained a victory by a significant margin, Friday’s consolation bracket matchup proved to be a slugfest worthy of the season-long rivalry between the two Area 10 opponents.
The Eagles wasted little time in taking the initial lead of the game, with Katlyn Sides driving in sister Kendall Beth with a double, then reaching home plate on a passed ball.
Kendell Hamm also crossed home for a 3-0 Sumiton Christian advantage in the first inning.
Lynn struck back with a run at the bottom of the first inning after an RBI double by Beck to close the lead to 3-1.
After a scoreless second inning, Sumiton Christian’s Jenna Ergle drove-in a run on a double to extend the lead to 4-1.
Momentum shifted decisively to the Bears following a five-run surge in the fourth inning. Self drove in two runs on a single, followed by an RBI double by Kelci McGough and a two-run triple by Tittle to allow Lynn to take the lead, 6-4.
All of the runs were unearned due to a throwing error that would have secured the third out.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Eagles evened the game at 6-6 after Kendall Beth Sides sent home two runs on a single.
Tittle began the bottom of the seventh inning with a single. She stole second base to set up Beck’s game-winning hit.
Self got the win for Lynn, giving up two walks while striking out five batters in seven innings.
Offensively, Tittle led Lynn, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, a run scored and two RBIs. Emma Easley was 1 for 4 with a run scored, while Holly Murray, Brooke Harris, McGough and Tidwell were 1 for 3 with runs scored. Self was 1 for 3 with two RBIs, while Beck was 1 for 4.
Ergle pitched seven innings in the loss for the Eagles, giving up no walks.
At the plate, Kendall Beth Sides was 3 for 4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a double, while Hamm was 3 for 4 with a run scored. Katlyn Sides was 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI, Savanah Langston was 1 for 3 with a run scored, and Ergle was 1 for 3 with an RBI. Kirsten Click, Abbie Brewster, Abbey Bice and Jessie Boone all recorded hits.
Brantley 3, Lynn 2
The Lynn Bears came up short in their efforts to stay in the winner’s bracket of the tournament, falling to the Brantley Bulldogs, 3-2 in Friday’s opener.
Lynn was able to get on the scoreboard first after Tittle scored on an error in the first inning, only to be countered by a Brantley run at the bottom of the inning for a 1-1 tie.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Bulldogs added an additional two runs to their lead for a 3-1 advantage.
The Bears drew closer in the fifth inning after a solo home run by Emma Easley, but the Bulldogs ultimately held on for the 3-2 victory.
Self gave up six hits, three walks and struck out two batters in the six-inning loss for Lynn.
Easley went 1 for 2 with a run scored and an RBI to lead the Bears offensively, while Holly Murray and Kelci McGough were 1 for 3. Tittle went 1 for 4 with a run scored.
Sumiton Christian 3, Kinston 0
The Sumiton Christian Eagles defeated the Kinston Bulldogs 3-0 to advance to the fourth round of the consolation bracket.
The Eagles established the lead in the first inning when Jenna Ergle batted in Kendall Beth Sides and Kendell Hamm on a single for the 2-0 first-inning advantage.
Sumiton Christian added a final score in the seventh inning when Hamm crossed the plate on an error for the 3-0 victory.
Ergle got the win in the circle, giving up four hits, while striking out three batter in seven strikeout innings.
Kendall Beth Sides was 3 for 4 with a run scored and a double, while Ergle was 1 for 3 with two RBIs. Katlyn Sides, Kirsten Click, Brewster, Boone and Langston all had hits.