It was a celebration that was 20 years in the making.
Union City basked in the glory of the program’s first-ever district softball tournament championship Thursday night after a thrilling 1-0 victory over South Fulton.
Brittany Parker’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth scored Essence Ware and Sadie Hollis spun another pitching masterpiece as the Lady Tornadoes finally broke through against their longtime nemesis.
SF had beaten UC in five of the last six district tourney title games.
“It was huge for our program to finally get over the hump against a team with the tradition like South Fulton,” first-year Union City head coach Wade Maddox said. “They’ve overmatched us a lot in the past, but I thought that when we were able to beat them in the regular season, it was big for us mentally.
“Again, Sadie was just awesome pitching, and we were able to scratch out that one run with some great execution and it proved to be all we needed.”
The Devilettes, who battled back from the loser’s bracket with three straight wins — including a 9-4 triumph over Halls earlier Thursday — will nonetheless make their 17th consecutive trip to the regional tournament when they travel to Huntingdon on Monday in the 7A semifinals.
“I’m proud of them; they showed some guts in getting back to the championship round and the regional tournament after being sluggish earlier in the week,” South Fulton head coach Curt Lee said of his young troops that includes a handful of freshmen in the starting lineup.
“We had a couple of opportunities to score and didn’t get the big hit, but credit Union City and their pitcher for an outstanding job.”
Union City will host a region tourney game for the first time ever, welcoming McKenzie for a 5:30 game at Graham Park.
UC 1, SF 0
With Hollis and South Fulton’s Sara Reams locked into a classic pitching duel in a scoreless game, Union City pushed across the only run with the aid of a couple of Devilette misplays that made that tally unearned.
Ware reached on an error and advanced to second on a passed ball. She then took third on a perfect two-strike bunt by Courtney Sherrill before Parker lofted her sacrifice fly to leftfield.
SF threatened in its final at-bat — putting runners at second and third with one out — but Hollis fanned pinch-hitter Brooke Parnell and Desiray Sturgeon to snuff out the threat and set off the celebration.
“Sadie has just put us on her back in the postseason,” Maddox added of his pitching ace, who has not allowed an earned run in her last seven outings.
The shutout was Hollis’ third in as many district tournament games and bettered her mark to 13-5. She fanned seven, allowed four walks and two hits.
Reams was equally as good — fanning four, walking none and giving just one hit, a single by Brittany Parker.
Landry Webster and Lexi Johnson had South Fulton’s hits.
SF 9, Halls 4
The Red Devilettes broke out in the second inning with five runs and then answered Halls’ four-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning with four of their own in the bottom half to earn their spot in the 14A finals and their 17th straight regional tournament berth.
Laying down bunts and making the Lady Tiger defense work, SF twice loaded the bases in the second frame.
Sierra Coley and Sturgeon each had two-run singles, and Aalia Bivens dropped in a double to plate SF’s fifth run of the inning.
Reams sailed along through five innings, striking out three and allowing only three hits, but then Halls used three hits, two SF errors and passed ball to pull within 5-4 in the top of the fifth.
Jalynne Smith tagged a two-run double, and Haley Bell followed with an RBI single for the Tigers’ big blows.
SF responded in the bottom half as five runs came across the plate via five hits, including a couple of bang-bang plays at first for infield singles, and another Halls error.
Reams drove in two runs with a base hit, Bivens followed with an RBI single and Cassidy Ruddle capped the uprising with a run-scoring double.
Reams then induced three ground-outs to end the game and extend SF’s season into next week.
Published in The Messenger 5.10.13