DUBLIN — It just couldn’t get any more dramatic.
The Lady Knights of West Bladen, their bats stymied through six and two-thirds innings by Jordan-Matthews, found themselves trailing 3-1 with two outs in the seventh inning and an 0-2 count on Danielle Dove.
But after a succession of foul balls, Dove drove a pitch to the fence in right-center — scoring Kristen Dickerson, who had reached after being hit by a pitch — and she never stopped. Coach Pam Stephens got her arm waving in a circular motion as Dove neared third and the senior steamed for home with the potential tying run.
As the crowd held its collective breath and the only sound would have been a pin dropping, Dove slid across the plate. The umpire checked things a bit closer and then spread his hands out to signal that Dove was safe. Stephens ran from the third-base coach’s box to home and asked what the call was, and when she was given the safe sign, she all but hugged the umpire.
“I couldn’t tell what the call was, at first,” she said.
The entire sequence of events seemed to breath new life into the Lady Knights’ offense.
Taylor Stephens followed with a double down the leftfield line. She raced to third on a wild pitch just before Abbey Walters walked and stole second base. Robin Coleman, who hadn’t hit a ball out of the infield all night, belted a hard liner to left-center and drove in the game-winning run as the West Bladen side of the field erupted.
Even the Lady Jets fans applauded the efforts.
:Robin and Danielle got us two big senior hits when we needed them most,” Pam Stephens said.
She also applauded the efforts of Nicole Wyatt, who came on in the third inning to put out a Jordan-Matthews uprising and finish the game without allowing a run.
“Nicole came in and toed the rubber and held them,” Pam Stephens said. “That was big.”
West Bladen opened the game with a run in the home half of the third inning playing small ball. Dove led off by reaching on an error but, after a bunt single by Taylor Stephens, Dove was erased on a fielder’s choice. But an error after Coleman’s fielder’s choice allowed Walters to race home with a run.
The Lady Jets used three hits, a walk and a hit batter by Walters in the third inning to plate three runs and take a 3-1 edge. Wyatt got the final two outs of the third on ground balls to squelch the threat.
Jordan-Matthews had three hits in the fourth, but couldn’t score thanks to a strong throw to home on a hit to rightfield that nailed a runner by Dove, and never threatened again.
Walters went two and one-third innings, plus four batters, and gave up three runs on three hits, one walk and a hit batter. She struck out three. Wyatt went the final four and two-third inns to earn the win, giving up no runs on five hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
Taylor Stephens was 2-for-4 with a double, and Erica Tanner was 2-for-2 with a walk. Dove was 1-for-4 with the inside-the-park home run and two RBI, while Coleman was 1-for-4 with the game-winning RBI single. Walters, who was 0-for-1, walked three times.
The win improves West Bladen to 23-2 and sends them into the third round of the state’s Class 2-A Eastern Region playoffs on Friday.
The Lady Knights will host the third-round game in the Class 2-A Eastern Region on Friday at 6 p.m. against and Eastern Randolph team that upset No. 1 seed Topsail on Tuesday, 4-0.
The Lady Wildcats, 14-12, are from Ramseur and play out of the Mid-State Conference, where they finished third.
Freshman Mikaela Green is Eastern Randolph’s workhorse pitcher. She has twirled 89 of the 154 innings for her team and compiled a 6-5 record. Sophomore Celeste Asbill is 6-2 with 31 innings worked, while junior Savannah Hollingsworth is 2-5 through 33 innings.
At the plate, junior Shi-cara Goins leads the team with 27 RBI and is hitting .394 this season with six doubles and three home runs.