PEMBROKE — Madison Strickland had an undesirable outcome in mind when she stepped up to the plate in the third inning of the Purnell Swett softball team’s game against Scotland on Tuesday.
“I honestly thought I was about to strike out,” Strickland said.
Things turned out differently than the senior first baseman anticipated, as she launched a pitch from Scotland’s BreAnna Steele into right field for a double. That hit brought in a pair of runs to help the Lady Rams back up a strong performance by freshman pitcher Torrie Butler and earn a 4-1 win over the Scots in the first round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.
Purnell Swett will play at Jack Britt on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the second round of the tournament. The Buccaneers defeated Pinecrest 10-3 on Tuesday.
Butler held Scotland (9-10) to two hits while notching six strikeouts and walking four batters for the Lady Rams (15-6).
“I felt pretty good. I wasn’t tired,” Butler said.
“That was big for her to come in and throw the ball as well as she did,” Purnell Swett head coach William Deese said. “All year I’ve tried to use a little bit of strategy with the pitching staff, tried to give JaiLeana (Deese) a few innings of rest. Torrie was big tonight.”
Purnell Swett’s go-to pitcher with a 2.68 ERA in 88 innings this season, Deese took a night off from the circle and played second base, going 1-for-3 as part of a lineup that got RBIs from Strickland, Kaitlyn Hunt and Kierra Locklear.
Hunt brought Nakyra Mitchell home from second base with a single to right field in the bottom of the third inning. Hunt’s hit tied the score after Scotland’s Mason Roberts drove in the first run of the game with a double in the top of the inning.
After Strickland’s RBI double that scored Hunt and Magan Barton, Locklear registered an RBI single to increase Purnell Swett’s lead to three runs.
The Lady Rams outhit the Scots 10-2. Seven players registered at least one hit for Purnell Swett.
Hunt finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Strickland was 1-for-3 with a double, a pair of RBIs and a run. Locklear went 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
“I’m really glad we got to play at home today,” Strickland said. “I think they said it’s been 12 years since we’ve played at home (in the tournament opener). I’m glad we got the win.”
The win righted the ship for the Lady Rams after they lost at Lumberton on Friday.
“I liked that we bounced back after Friday night,” William Deese said. “We weren’t defensively as crisp as we have been Friday night. I like the fact that we bounced back and played solid defense and continued to hit the ball.”
Roberts went 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI for Scotland. Katie Lighthall picked up the team’s other hit.
The Lady Rams beat Jack Britt 6-5 at home on March 27 before losing to the Buccaneers 12-2 on the road two days later.
“I hope they take the positive parts from the game, knowing they can achieve their goals, and step back in and battle,” Deese said. “Every game has been a battle, and we’ve been in every game except maybe a couple this year.”
Torrie Butler tosses a pitch against Scotland on Tuesday. The Purnell Swett pitcher logged a two-hitter as the Lady Rams earned a 4-1 victory against the Scots in the first round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournamnet.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follw him on Twitter @BrandonTester.