By Austin Bishop
The Meridian Star
It just wasn't to be.
After 16 innings of big plays and tense moments, the Enterprise Lady Bulldogs fell just short of their third MHSAA Class 2A State Fast-Pitch Softball Championship on Saturday, dropping a 3-1 decision in the decisive game three. But EHS head coach Davey Dewitt said he was pleased with the way his team played, battling East Webster to the last out.
"It was a great ballgame," Dewitt said. "They just got a couple big hits when they needed them. We fought with them all the way to the end."
Enterprise went into Saturday's action at Freedom Ridge Park with a one game lead in the best-of-three series. East Webster scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win game one 6-5, forcing the deciding contest.
The third game was scoreless through the first six innings. After East Webster's first two hitters were retired in the top of the seventh, the Lady Wolverines put together a double and then three consecutive singles to take a 3-0 lead.
"You felt like whoever got the big hit first had the best chance to win," Dewitt said.
The Lady Bulldogs tried to answer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Harley Smith led the inning off with a double to right and pinch runner Jordan Goodman moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a long fly by Hayleigh Harper that was hauled in just feet from the center field fence. But that was a close as the Lady Bulldogs could come to tying the game.
The Losses dropped EHS to 19-14 on the season, while East Webster improved to 22-7 and won its fifth state championship in school history, the last coming in 2009.
After winning Friday's opener 6-3, Enterprise found itself behind 4-0 in Saturday's opener after the the Lady Wolverines scored three runs in the third inning and one in the fourth on three hits and three EHS errors.
The Lady Bulldogs responded with a big five-run inning in the fifth inning to take the lead at 5-4. Lauren Smith, Brittany Hagwood and Blakely Riley each singled to start the rally, while Harley Smith cleared the bases with a three-run double. A pair of East Webster errors later EHS added their final two runs, the last coming when Goodman, who was pinch runner for Harper, scored when the catcher's pick-off attempt sailed into left field.
East Webster tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the inning. After a scoreless sixth, the Lady Bulldogs managed to get runners on first and second with two out as Smith singled and Harper walked, but failed to score.
It appeared East Webster would win the game in the bottom of the seventh when the Lady Wolverines got runners on second and third with one out, but Harper coaxed the next two batters to ground out to end the threat.
The game moved into extra innings, and each team began the inning with a runner on second base. Enterprise was able to move it's runner to third with bunts in the eighth and ninth innings, but weren't able to push a run across the plate.
After leaving the bases laoded in the bottom of the eighth, East Webster combined a sacrifice bunt with a bloop single to right over a drawn-in infield to give the Lady Wolverines the win.
"Once they won that game, the momentum really swing over to them," Dewitt said. "They are a really good hitting team, probably the best in 2A. Everybody they had could hit."