With a conference softball title on the line and her team trailing by a run, Madison Ferguson and West Lincoln were down to their last strike.
The next pitch she put over the fence, and delivered her teammates a championship.
Ferguson’s two-run home run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning gave West Lincoln the lead, and hurler Cassidy Wise made it stand as the Rebels downed host Bandys 3-2 Friday to win the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference regular season title.
West Lincoln now awaits the pairings for this week’s conference tournament. The Rebels (17-3, 13-1) will face either Newton-Conover or West Caldwell in the first round. Those teams finished tied for seventh, but because of the three-way tie for second between Bandys, Bunker Hill and East Lincoln, all ties had yet to be broken as of Sunday night.
Trailing 2-1 and three outs from being swept by the Trojans this season, Taylor Leatherman hit a pinch-hit single with one away in the seventh to set up Ferguson’s fourth home run of the year.
Meredith Ferguson struck out for the second out, and Madison Ferguson fouled off back-to-back pitches to run the count to 2-2 before sending the sixth pitch of the at-bat over the fence in center field.
Wise worked around a pair of two-out singles by Regan Smith and Kat Borrow in the bottom of the seventh by getting Kathleen Reardon to fly out to right for the Rebels’ first conference championship since 2010.
Lyla Sain went 2-for-4 and drove in a run in the second to give West Lincoln the early 1-0 lead.
The Trojans (10-4 SD-7) got both of their runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Reardon and a sac fly.
Smith, who went to the pitching circle in the sixth, had West Lincoln right where she wanted it. She included a fly ball out for the first out of the seventh, then retired Meredith Ferguson for the second but couldn’t get Madison Ferguson –– whose only hit Friday was the game-winner.
Katie Hively went 2-for-4 and Karsen Leonhardt added a triple. Raeven McCrodden, Kylee Leonhardt and Erin Huff had a single each for the Rebels.
Wise scattered five hits across seven innings and gave up one earned run. She walked three and struck out four. Smith gave up two earned runs on three hits –– McCrodden singled in the sixth –– and struck out two.
This week’s conference tournament will be held at Betty G. Ross Park in Lincolnton.