LAURINBURG — The sky darkened and the wind howled just as Scotland County and Dunn took the field Tuesday for the semifinals of the Dixie Softball State Tournament.
Scotland and Dunn were competing for a spot in the finals in the Dixie Ponytails traditional bracket; the 12U division goes by the rules normally set forth by parks and recreation softball.
The two teams met during the opening round of play with Dunn picking up the 10-3 victory and advancing in the winner’s bracket. Scotland dropped to the loser’s bracket, where the team found their rhythm defeating Topsail and Sampson County to get a chance at redemption.
The Scotland Ponytails jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Nateya Scott reached on a walk before she was moved into scoring position by Lindsey Locklear on a hard hit ball to the short stop. With runners in scoring position, Summer Newton hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Scott to score from first. Bailee Barfield then smacked an RBI single up the middle to score Locklear and give Scotland a boost.
The excitement in the Scotland dugout quickly faded as Dunn scored 10 runs in the bottom of the second — seven of them coming with two outs.
Dunn sent 14 batters to the plate, after scoring nine runs Scotland head coach Contonio Wilson called time and relieved Scott of her pitching duties and put Locklear in. The pitching change also meant a catching change, Riley Phillips moved to second base and Barfield went behind the plate.
Locklear gave up one run and hit a batter before ending the inning with a ground out.
Suddenly down eight runs, Scotland had a steep hill to climb but wasn’t able to mount any sort of rally in the top of the second going three up, three down.
In the circle, Locklear held Dunn in check in the bottom half of the inning only facing four batters. Locklear returned to the circle three betters later as Dunn managed to retire the side.
Dunn added five runs in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 15-2.
Scotland didn’t go down without a fight, scoring two more runs in the top of the fourth, but the runs weren’t enough to deactivate the 10-run rule. In Dixie Softball if a team is ahead by 10 runs after four innings the game is called.
Following the game, Scotland was presented with participation medals and congratulated for advancing to the semifinals of the Dixie Ponytail division.
With the win, Dunn advanced to the finals and took on Hope Mills on Wednesday afternoon. The two met in the third round and Dunn came out victorious, 17-0. Hope Mills dropped to the loser’s bracket and defeated Moore County, 17-7, to advance to the championship.
Dunn was crowned the Dixie Softball State Champions in the Ponytail traditional division and will advance to Alexandria, Louisiana, for the Dixie Softball World Series next weekend.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]