“I’ve seen crazy things happen in ball games.”
That was Greenbrier head coach Janna Harris’s message to her team as they trailed 13-8 in the bottom of the seventh inning of their state tournament elimination game.
Perhaps none were as wild as what transpired over the next several minutes as the Lady Cats avoided elimination with a 14-13 victory over Covington.
Senior Carley Clinard pitched the first two innings of the game. She allowed three earned runs off five hits. Sophomore Laura Walker would pitch the remainder of the game.
Walker already threw more innings than normal in Tuesday’s loss to Gibbs but ended up throwing even more Wednesday.
Both teams hit the ball well throughout. Harris called it a “hitter’s game,” as the two teams totaled 36 hits.
“Both teams just hit the ball,” Harris said. “It didn’t matter where it was pitched. Hitting is momentum, and both sides had momentum. Once one person got a hit, the next person got a hit. We say it’s contagious.”
After five innings, the Lady Cats held a 7-5 lead, their largest of the game, but Covington scored five runs in the sixth and added three more in the top of the seventh.
Greenbrier faced a five-run deficit with only three outs remaining. Harris kept reminding her team that there was still hope.
“You’ve got to be patient at the plate; we’ve got to take this one at a time and keep fighting,” Harris said. “You’ve just got to see what happens, and something crazy happened.”
Something crazy indeed.
Makenzie Zaborney, Morghan Henley and Raylon Roach all reached base to start the inning. Aubrey Clinard brought home Zaborney on a groundout, and Gracie Rudd singled to center.
In the span of five at-bats, the tying run that possibly seemed out of reach was in the batter's box, her name: Kayla Doble.
The junior catcher launched a grand slam for her second home run of the day, but more importantly, it kept her season alive.
"(I’m going to) Leave it all on the field," Doble said. "You never know if it's gonna be my last at-bat for the day or my last at-bat for the season. I’m just going out there to give it my all, and I’m enjoying every second of it.”
Walker shut out Covington in the eighth, and Morghan Henley drove home Carley Clinard to cap off a spectacular comeback and advance the Lady Cats to the next round on Thursday.
“So proud to complete that, to fight for something and finish it,” Harris said. “I challenged them yesterday. Were they going to show up and quit today, or were they going to show up and fight today?
“Several times throughout the day, I thought, they’re fighting, they’re fighting, they’re fighting... (I’m) just so proud of what they’ve accomplished. I’ve talked to them about how it’s such a big deal to get to state, but it’s an even bigger deal to win a game at state.”
The Lady Cats will face Red Bank Thursday at 10 a.m. for another elimination game. If they win, they will play again at 4 p.m.
In order to win the whole thing, they would have to win five games in two days, which sounds crazy.
But I’ve seen crazy things happen in ball games.