The rain held, despite a drizzle here and there, during a softball battle Tuesday night at North Hall High.
The setting wound up serving as a metaphor for a record-setting performance by a sickly pitcher.
Bending but never breaking while battling a cold, North Hall starting pitcher Megan Rogers pitched a complete game, striking out 16 batters, a Lady Trojans’ record, in her team’s 2-1 win over Lumpkin County.
The win tied North Hall (8-4, 4-2 Region 7A-AAA) with Lumpkin County (11-6, 4-2) for second in the subregion, and set up a showdown with the team atop the sub-region standings, Creekview (14-4, 5-0), on Thursday. A win would put North Hall in a tie for first in subregion 7A-AAA.
“I don’t know, I just pitched,” Rogers said. “We had to come back because we lost to White County (in the team’s last subregion game) and we just had to come out on top.”
It wasn’t easy for North Hall, despite Rogers allowing only one hit the entire game.
Playing its own version of “small ball,” North Hall bunted and sacrificed its way to two runs, just enough to win.
“I was proud of the way we moved runners tonight,” North Hall coach Roger Fannon said.
The only RBI of the game came on a triple by Hannah Stevens in the second inning. With sophomore catcher Dannielle Newbern on first after a walk, Stevens showed bunt, then drew her bat back and hit a shot to the right-center field fence.
A near-perfect relay from Lumpkin County’s centerfielder to the shortstop to homeplate was eclipsed by Newbern’s slide underneath the tag of Lady Indians’ catcher Morgan Chapman.
Lumpkin County struck back in the top of the third when, with one out Laura Webber, who reached third on a throwing error by the Lady Trojans, scored on a passed ball.
With the game tied and another Lumpkin County runner on third, Rogers struck out the third and fourth batters in the Lady Indians’ lineup to stave off the threat.
“It was a great battle,” Fannon said. “She was sick tonight so she had to battle. She was behind in the count a lot, she normally doesn’t do that.
“She came in here and we just said, ‘Keep battlin’ and we’ll get you a run and that’s what we did.”
In the bottom of the fifth, after having her no-hitter broken up by a triple off the bat of Frankie Walls,
Rogers laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Kelsey Gibbs and Anna Bower to second and third respectively.
Following Rogers sacrifice, Brittany Smith fouled off pitch after pitch before connecting with a long fly ball to left, deep enough to score Bower from third and give North Hall a one-run lead.
Rogers struck out the side in the top of the sixth, and with one out in the top of the seventh and a runner on first, faced the only batter to get a hit off of her the entire game, Walls.
The two battled to a full count with Walls fouling off nine pitches, the last one right into the glove of North Hall catcher Newbern.
“I threw a screwball,” Rogers said.“That’s my best pitch and I just said that I had to better and come out on top.”
“She brought it,” Fannon said.
“It was truly time for the best pitch of the night and she hit it.”
The next batter, Emily Gaddis, hit a line drive to left, right into the glove of Smith, to end the game.
“Brittany (Smith) came up with a huge fly ball that scored the winning run for us,” Fannon said. “She also made a great catch, it was hard to see that winning catch in the lights.
“Brittany had a great game tonight.”
North Hall next plays at 5:55 p.m. Thursday at Creekview, while Lumpkin next plays at 5:55 p.m. Tuesday at West Hall.