FAYETTEVILLE — The Purnell Swett softball team scored six runs in the seventh inning on Wednesday against Jack Britt, but several defensive mistakes came back to haunt the Lady Rams as they lost 11-9 in the second round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.
Purnell Swett committed nine errors as they suffered a loss at Jack Britt for the second time this season. The Lady Rams lost 12-2 in Fayetteville earlier this season.
“I don’t think we came ready to play,” Purnell Swett head coach William Deeese said. “We looked sluggish on defense and our energy wasn’t there. I don’t know if it was because of the energy from last night’s game (a win against Scotland) not crossing over into tonight. As the game went on it seemed like our energy increased.”
Kaitlyn Hunt hit a three-run home run and starting pitcher JaiLeana Deese added a solo shot for the Lady Rams. MariJo Wilkes tallied three RBIs.
Facing an eight-run deficit at the start of the seventh inning, the Lady Rams found momentum offensively after Jack Britt pitcher Carlie Myrtle held their bats in check for most of the night.
Nakyra Mitchell led off the inning with a single and Deese pushed her into scoring position with another single. Hunt took advantage of the rally by knocking a homer over the fence, bringing the Lady Rams withing five runs of tying the score.
“It feels good because I put my team in a good situation,” Hunt said.
Purnell Swett continued to chip away at Jack Britt’s lead with an RBI single from Madison Strickland. She drove in Magan Barton, who reached base with a double.
Myrtle hit Kierra Locklear with a pitch, prompting a brief pitching change as MacKenzie George took over in the circle for the Buccaneers.
A wild pitch put both of Purnell Swett’s baserunners in scoring position, but George picked up the first out of the inning in the next at-bat.
MariJo Wilkes registered an RBI single for the Lady Rams, prompting Jack Britt to bring bring Myrtle back to pitch with a 11-8 Lady Buccaneer advantage.
Wilkes drove in a pair of runs with a double earlier in the game.
Trinity Locklear hustled out an infield single to bring in another run for Purnell Swett, but Myrtle notched a strikeout before getting Deese to fly out.
“We didn’t quit. We kept trying to do the little things,” William Deese said. “It seemed like it was working in the seventh inning. We were actually in position to tie right there, but we just didn’t get the hit at that point in time.”
Deese said his team’s biggest takeaway from the game was its “no-quit” mentality.
“That energy we put in at the end, we’ve got to bring that at the beginning,” Deese said.
Hunt said mistakes were a major factor in the loss. The Lady Rams struggled to make routine plays defensively after the Buccaneers took an early lead on a three-run homer by Rayven Shepard in the first inning.
“If we could take those errors away, the ballgame would have been a lot better,” Hunt said.
Shepard notched four RBIs and scored a run while going 1-for-4 at the plate for the Buccaneers.
Myrtle was credited with the win after allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and striking out five in 6 2/3 innings. She also picked up three hits and two RBIs at the plate for the Buccaneers, who had their own defensive struggles with six errors.
Jack Britt takes on Richmond in Friday’s conference championship game.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.