Surry softball splits with Bland, remains in tie for first

Dobson, NC – April 4, 2015.

Surry Community College and Richard Bland Community College remain tied for first place in the Region X softball standings after splitting another pair of games Saturday in Dobson.

For the second day in a row, the Knights struggled with Bland pitcher Tara Heatwole, who allowed just one run in a 6-1 win in the first game. But just like Friday, the two teams split as Surry (21-9, 10-2 Region X) held on to take the second game 6-5. Both teams have just two losses in Region X play.

“Both teams are so evenly matched. Neither team can seem to get over the hump either way,” Surry head coach Blaine Bullington said. “That’s okay. We started the weekend tied for first and ended the weekend tied for first.”

Kelsie Griffin ripped a solo home run for the Knights in the first inning of Game 1. It would be the only run of the contest, however, as Surry struggled to get the ball out of the infield against Heatwole.

“We just did not hit the ball. We had a ton of popups today in the infield,” Bullington said. “We just couldn’t seem to get it right. They scored a few runs and we couldn’t do anything.”

Bullington said he is not much on being a cheerleader, but gave the team a pointed speech between games. It seemed to work as Surry jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2.

“I hope I riled them up a bit,” he said. “I think they got serious about it and it led to getting an early lead and hanging on. “

Regan Gentry led off the first inning with a double and Lacey Grubbs followed with a walk. Rachel Wagoner, who led the way with two home runs and 4 RBIs, put Surry up 3-0 with a mammoth home run to left field.

“It was a big hit. We had just come off losing, hoping to make something happen, and she did in the first inning,” Bullington said.

Bland hit a home run each in the second and third innings, however, to tie the game at 3-all. Wagoner again came through in the clutch, drilling her second homer of the game, this one just holding fair down the left field line against a strong wind.

“Again, another big hit at the right time,” Bullington said. “Rachel just had a good day at the plate in that second game.”

Surry tacked on a pair of pivotal insurance runs in the fifth on Gentry’s two-run single to put the Knights in front 6-3. Hayley Tickle improved to 12-3 with the win on the mound for Surry, but Shey Steelman came on in relief to get the Knights out of a jam in the fourth inning. She held Bland down until a late rally in the seventh before holding on to earn the save.

“Hayley was throwing well. She has some fight in her and she doesn’t like to come out, but we felt like it was the right move to make at the time and it turned out to be,” Bullington said. “Shey pitched well in both games. We just couldn’t get her any offense in the first game. When you are limited to two pitchers like we are, we have to rely on them, and they pitched extremely well.”

Wagoner went 2-for-3 with two runs and 4 RBIs to lead Surry in Game 2, while Gentry went 2-for-4 with a run and 2 RBIs.

“We had a chance to fold after that first game, but we hung in there. They wanted a win out of the two games today. They fought for it and got it and I am proud for the effort they put in,” Bullington said. “I’m excited we are still in the race. We are just trying to get better for May 1 and 2 for the conference tournament. Both teams still have a lot of conference games to play. I didn’t think it would be a do-or-die situation either way, but I thought it could be a stepping stone for one team. I feel like we will be fine if we play like we should the rest of the way.”

Surry will be back in action on Tuesday when Spartanburg Methodist comes to Dobson for a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.


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