Knights split softball doubleheader in battle for first place

Dobson, NC – April 3, 2015.

Surry Community College’s softball team entered Friday tied with Richard Bland Community College atop the Region X standings, and after two games, nothing changed. Proving to be as equally matched as their unbeaten conference marks coming in, Surry and Bland split by identical scores, with both teams winning a game 5-4 in Dobson.

The Knights had to rally for their victory in Game 1 after Bland struck for a pair of unearned runs in the first inning off starter Shey Steelman. The sophomore settled down, however, to scatter six hits while striking out three.

“I thought she threw extremely well. We had a couple of errors in the first inning where they got a couple of unearned runs but then she didn’t give up another run until the fifth,” Surry head coach Blaine Bullington said. “She scattered six hits, which was a good thing for us, and kept them off-balance for the most part.”

Surry (20-8, 9-1 Region X) trailed 3-2 in the fifth inning when Kelsie Griffin got things going with a leadoff single. Lacey Grubbs followed by giving the Knights the lead for good with a towering home run to left field for a 4-3 advantage. Griffin, who went 2-for-3, added a much-needed insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth inning as Surry held on for the 5-4 win.

Grubbs went 1-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBIs, while Taylor Little had an RBI double in the second inning to score Hayley Tickle.

“It was a big game for us. They came in undefeated in conference and we did, too,” Bullington said. “We turned around and split, but I think both teams are really evenly matched. We will get another shot at them (Saturday).”

The Knights struggled in Game 2 against Bland pitcher Tara Heatwole. The sophomore retired the first 11 batters she faced and had only given up three hits heading into the seventh inning with Bland leading 5-0.

Down to its last at bat, Surry nearly pulled off an incredible comeback with four straight hits to open the bottom of the seventh. Rachel Wagoner and Molli Huffman both led off with singles before Sydney Caudle drove in Wagoner with an RBI double. Tickle then made it 5-3 with a two-run single and Steelman reached on a single. In all, the Knights had six hits in the final inning, but stranded the tying run at third base and the winning run at second as Wagoner’s hard-hit line drive was snared by Bland’s third baseman for the final out.

“We didn’t hit the ball at all until the last inning. Their pitcher pretty much had our number,” Bullington said. “I was really going to wear them out for not playing with intensity and then they turned it around at the end. We will have to wait to see how that plays out tomorrow. I don’t think it will decide the conference because both teams have so many games left, but I do think it is two key games for the season.”

The two teams will square off again Saturday at 12 and 2 p.m. at Fisher River Park in Dobson.

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