Lady Falcons fall short of the state championship
By Will Johnson
Watching the Lady Falcons this season has been tremendous, from seeing them advance past team after team, to beating Hartsville for the Region 6 championship for the first time in several years, to upsetting North Augusta in a double-header for the District 4 Championship. If I were to sum up this season for the Lady Falcons in one word, it would be determined. This team went into each game with confidence to rise to whatever challenge before them against all odds. These players knew what their ambition was and that was to make it to the State Championship. They kept this mindset throughout every game; even if they were down by several runs in the last inning, they would find a way to dig deep and pull out the win. Unfortunately, the Lady Falcons found an opponent with the same mindset in Lugoff-Elgin. Having never won a state championship this team had something to prove. In Game 1 at Lugoff-Elgin, they would do just that. Watching pitchers Madie Andrews and Emma Spradley face off was amazing; both pitchers would not allow any runs until the 6th inning. Andrews warmed up quickly, striking out batter after batter for a total of 7 for the game. She proved why she was named an all-state pitcher, only allowing 3 hits in the bottom of the 6th. When Lugoff-Elgin batter Emily Vinson with a 1-0 count read Andrews’ pitch and hit a double to center field, it got the crowd going for Lugoff-Elgin. Andrews would walk outfielder Summer Staples putting two players on base. With the Lugoff-Elgin crowd going wild pitcher Spradley stepped up to bat. After watching the first ball going by her, she stepped back in the box ready and determined to score. She hit a homerun way over the left field fence to score and bring in two runs with her. With the momentum still in Lugoff-Elgin’s favor, Hailey Mock would single. Andrews was determined to end the Demons’ scoring run, striking out Reece Pickett. The Lady Falcons were not shaken going into the 7th down by 3; they’ve been there before many times. They were determined to do what they needed to win, which is exactly what they would do. In the top of the 7th inning at the bottom of the lineup Ary Mcphail was hit by the second pitch advancing her to first. Back at the top of the lineup All-State player Naya Jones, who had struggled to get on base the entire game, clutched up and hit a single line drive to left field. Mcphail would limp off the field after stealing 3rd, bringing in Brayli Weatherford to be pinch runner. Jones would also steal 2nd putting the Lady Falcons in great position to score with only one out. Center fielder Alayna Williamson would watch two balls being patient for a good pitch. As the third ball come across the plate Williamson hit a hard line drive deep to right field bringing in Weatherford and an error throw would also bring in Jones. After Amber Rodgers struck out, the Lady Falcons were down by one run with two outs. Still determined the Lady Falcons would end it there. Katelyn Church would walk. With two Falcons on base Ashton Goodwin would single on a line drive to the left field hole allowing Williamson to score on an error throw. First Baseman Savannah Evans would battle at bat against Spradley finally striking out for the 3rd out ending the inning. With the score tied the Lady Falcons just needed to hold the Demons to go into extra innings; however the Demons would get two runners on base because of fielding errors. With 2 outs and two runners on base Emily Vinson batting, Camryn Jordan would score on another fielding error. The Demons would end it there winning 4-3 in game one. Going into Game 2, the Lady Falcons were home and determined to make it to Saturday. Lugoff-Elgin showed up wanting to end it in two. In the first inning Lugoff Elgin’s Emily Vinson would leadoff with a single to center field. After Vinson stole 2nd and advanced to third pitcher Emma Spradley singled on a ground ball to center fielder allowing Vinson to score. Hailey Mock hit a groundball and got on base by error advancing Spradley to 2nd. With two outs Tomie Christofaro hit a ground ball to shortstop allowing Spradley to score advancing Mock to 3rd. Mock would score during the next at bat by error bring the score to 3 at the conclusion of the top of the 1st inning. In the bottom of the 2nd Amber Rodgers would score on an RBI single to center field by Kansas Cassidy giving Darlington their first run of the game. The Lady Falcons, still determined to win in front of a packed Lady Falcon stadium, would score another run at the bottom of the 4th inning. With loaded bases and one out Madie Andrews sacrificed for pinch runner Lynsey Tiller to score. Down by one and the game heading into the bottom of the 6th the Lady Falcons were looking for the momentum and runs to get the win. At the bottom of the lineup Ary Mcphail singled on a line drive to center field. Naya Jones singled on a hard grounder to left field. Madie Andrews walked, putting the Lady Falcons in a bases loaded situation with no outs. Alayna Williamson grounded into fielder’s choice allowing Mcphail and Jones to score. The Lady Falcons took the lead for the first time at 4-3. Once again in a situation like the first game where Darlington was looking to just hold out defensively, Lugoff-Elgin would face two outs and one runner on base. Pitcher Abbey Crates facing 3 balls, 1 strike, hit a home run deep to left field giving the Demons the lead 5-4. With an overwhelming Lugoff-Elgin crowd, it would be three up, three down for the Lady Falcons at bat determining Lugoff-Elgin the winners of the 2021 4A State Championship for the first time in program history. The Lady Falcons would finish a terrific 24-6 for the season winning the 4A Region 6 Championship, 4A district 4 Championship, and 4A Lower State Championship. Congratulations to a team that will be immortalized in Darlington softball history.