LUMBERTON — Erin Maynor said she knows the real reason that Lumberton softball coach Mackie Register picked the all-black uniform combo for the Lady Pirates’ Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament first-round matchup against Hoke.
After donning the black jerseys and pants in the win over Purnell Swett on senior day, it was the same uniforms that Lumberton broke out at home on Tuesday.
“He’s a superstitious person, that’s what I tell him,” Maynor said.
Same uniforms, same result for the Lady Pirates in a 6-4 win at home to open the tournament and seal the No. 4 seed from the conference.
“We won with them, so we decided to come back to them tonight,” Register said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Lady Pirates travel to top-seeded Richmond Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Lumberton (15-8) needed whatever vibes or luck the uniforms brought in the top of the seventh inning to clinch the victory. In the previous half inning, a 3-1 Lumberton vanished with two runs by Hoke (15-8) in the top of the sixth.
“We just needed to get one run across and I thought we would have a good chance to hold them in the seventh,” Register said.
After Rachel O’Neil led off the inning and reached second on a throwing error, Lumberton manufactured the go-ahead runs effectively with a Kasey West groundout to score O’Neil, and then rallied with two outs. Morgan Britt reached on a single and stole second and third before scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch, and LeeAnn Nobles followed up with an RBI single to center field to score Madison Canady to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
As a team, the Lady Pirates had nine hits and five RBIs to account for the six runs scoring, a sign that Register likes seeing.
“Our girls executed tonight as far as situational hitting, the best they had done all year,” he said. “We scored some runs without getting a hit.”
Leading the way at the plate was Maynor and Britt with two hits apiece. Maynor also had a run scored and an RBI in the win. Maynor’s approach was much like the team’s approach at the plate going up against the two arms that Hoke threw at the Lady Pirates.
“I felt like whatever I hit, it should be on the ground because their infield was back and their outfield was up. I knew it had to be on the ground and in between somebody,” the junior outfielder said. “I tried to swing at the first one I liked. If I didn’t like it, I let it go. The pitchers were pitching outside so I was crowding the plate.”
Freshman Mallorie Allen got the start on the mound for Lumberton and allowed three unearned runs on five hits in her five innings in the circle before handing the ball over to Ariel Allbrooks for the final two innings.
Allbrooks allowed one earned run, while three runs crossed home while she was pitching. In the top of the sixth, Allbrooks took over with Ina Womack on second base. A single to left field and an error in the outfield on the same play off the bat of Kamryn Russell scored the first run of the inning to make it 3-2 Lumberton. Later in the frame, a passed ball scored Russell from third to knot the score.
One run scored in the top of the seventh inning for Hoke once it loaded the bases and Kiya Locklear forced a run home on a two-out infield single. Allbrooks got out of the bases loaded jam with the next at-bat to finish the game.
“We are playing good enough defense behind them to win,” Register said of his pitching. “They are throwing strikes and letting our defense work behind us. That’s all we can ask for.”
Allbrooks had one RBI in the win with her run-scoring single in the bottom of the second inning. She scored three batters later on an Ashley Prevatte sacrifice fly.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid at home for Lumberton against Hoke, dating back to the second-round loss in last year’s NCHSAA state playoffs. With all that was on the line with postseason bids, it was a must-win for the Lady Pirates.
“We knew today was a playoff game with a playoff atmosphere,” Register said. “The girls came out and responded.”
Taylor Pasternak had an RBI for Hoke, while Russell had a team-best three hits.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.