By RYAN HERMAN
VALE –– Chris Fulbright’s philosophy to softball success is it takes everyone on a roster to win a game, even those who don’t play. They just need someone to lead them.
Cue Regan Smith.
Smith hit two home runs and drove in five, and pitched three solid innings for the save as Bandys knocked off West Lincoln 9-5 Thursday in a game between two of the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference’s top teams.
The win knocked the Rebels (9-2, 5-1) from the league’s top spot and forced a three-way tie for first with the Trojans (4-2, 4-1) and East Lincoln (5-4, 4-1) at one conference loss each.
Thursday’s game was played up a day to avoid today’s forecasted bad weather. East Lincoln is scheduled to host Maiden today, weather permitting.
“I don’t believe that one person wins a game; it takes a team,” Bandys coach Chris “Chopper” Fulbright said. “One thing is, these girls, they come together. … It’s a team sport.”
It’s also a sport where an individual can make all the difference.
“She’s a good shortstop, she’s a good slap hitter, and tonight she showed she’s got a little pop,” Fulbright said of Smith.
“After the game I called her, ‘Babe Ruth,’ and she just smiled.”
Smith’s first homer turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead to start the fourth, and in the sixth she added a three-run shot to left that made it 7-3 and all but put this one out of reach.
Both home runs came with two outs, and the second came with Smith in a 1-2 count. But she should have never had the opportunity to hit in the sixth.
In back-to-back at-bats the Rebels allowed sure fly-ball outs to fall between two fielders due to a lack of communication, giving Tori Treadway a one-out double and Mallory Bailey a one-out single to flip the lineup back to the top. Amber Peters sacrificed both over, then West Lincoln pitcher Cassidy Wise looked as if she might work her way out by getting ahead in the count 1-2.
But the fourth pitch of the at-bat was right where Smith wanted it, and the ball left the yard in nearly the same spot as her previous long ball.
“Those two home runs were big,” Fulbright said. “We try to stress that, you can’t give a team another out, and when somebody gives it to you you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Smith, who singled in the third, went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored all four times she reached base. Kat Borrow went 2-for-4 and had an RBI double in the first and an RBI single in the third.
Treadway went 4-for-4 with two doubles, and drove in a run on a single in the seventh. Bandys’ final run scored on an error.
Borrow pitched four solid innings for the win. She gave up three earned runs on five hits, walked one and struck out four. Smith, who entered to start the fifth, gave up two runs on four hits, walked one and struck out three.
The teams had an answer for each other in the first three innings. Katie Hively’s run-scoring single tied it at 1 after the first. Borrow plated Smith on a single in the third, but the Rebels answered in their half of the inning on Kylee Leonhardt’s two-run home run that scored Raeven McCrodden.
But from the fourth inning on this one was all Bandys.
The Rebels had their eight-game winning streak snapped, a streak that ended exactly one month after their first and only loss. They hadn’t allowed a run in 13 innings, had tossed three straight shutouts –– two ending due to the mercy rule –– and had outscored their first five SD-7 opponents 54-1.
West Lincoln did have nine hits –– McCrodden went 3-for-4, Leonhardt 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs and Hively went 2-for-3 with two RBIs –– but they stranded six, struck out seven times, and made those two ever-important mental errors that allowed Smith to extend the lead.
“I think, that, in the long run, this will do us some good,” Rebels coach Tyler Sain said.
“There was a lack of communication. And we didn’t hit the ball, that’s the bottom line.”