UNION SENIORS RALLY FOR 9-8 WIN

July 13, 2004 11:00 pm
STAND-UP DOUBLE: Union County's Keri Reynolds safely reaches second base during Tuesday's District 3, Seniors division softball opener. Reynolds was right in the middle of a three-run seventh-inning rally that gave Union County a 9-8 win. (The Observer/Bill Rautenstrauch).
STAND-UP DOUBLE: Union County's Keri Reynolds safely reaches second base during Tuesday's District 3, Seniors division softball opener. Reynolds was right in the middle of a three-run seventh-inning rally that gave Union County a 9-8 win. (The Observer/Bill Rautenstrauch).

By Bill Rautenstrauch

Observer staff writer

ELGIN — The Union County Senior Girls softball team learned one thing for certain Tuesday: Pendleton, its only rival in the District 3 all-star tournament, will not be easy prey.

In Tuesday's opener, the Union County team earned, lost and re-gained the lead in a thriller of a game played in 90-degree heat.

The contest ended in a 9-8 Union County victory, much to Manager Dick Griffin's relief.

"The girls had a lot of opportunities they didn't take advantage of, but they kept their heads up and stayed in the game. It's nice to have the win," Griffin said.

The teams were locked in a

1-1 tie through two innings. In the top of the third, Union County loaded the bases, but failed to capitalize on the situation.

Pendleton grabbed a lead in the bottom of the same frame when Whitney Adams drew a walk, stole second and third, then came home on Courtney Jim's single.

The teams slugged it out through the next two stanzas, with neither able to push a run across the plate.

Then in the fifth, Union County started to shake things up. Keri Reynolds sparked the rally, rapping a single and scoring on a Christina McGilvray sacrifice.

Later in the stanza, Carrie Stratton tagged Jim for a two-run double, sending Union County ahead by a 4-2 tally. Pendleton went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the frame.

In the top of the sixth, Union County's Mandy Griffin laced a solo home run over the center field fence. McGilvray reached base and later scored on a error to make it 6-2 in favor of UC.

But Pendleton wasn't ready to roll over and die. In the bottom of the sixth, the Bucks reeled off six runs to grab an 8-6 lead.

In the top of the seventh, consecutive hits from Kara Mann, Katie Griffin and Reynolds yielded a tying run for Union County. Then a double by Mandy Griffin put Union County in the catbird seat, 9-8.

Pendleton, owning home team advantage, did not go gently into the broiling afternoon.

In the last half of the last inning, Sara Roach knocked a base hit, then sat down in favor of pinch runner Jessica Wright.

Union County fans fretted as Wright stole second and scampered to third on a fielder's choice.

She was poised to tie the score and send the game into extra innings when Union County hurler Savannah Wilhelm tossed a strikeout to end the contest.

The double-elimination argument between Union County and Pendleton continues with a game today at 4:30 p.m.

If Pendleton loses, Union County is the champ. A Pendleton victory would force a third game, date and time to be announced.

Union County 9, Pendleton 8

Union County — 100 032 3 — 9 14 5

Pendleton — 011 006 0 — 8 10 4

Wilhelm and Griffin; Jim and Paul.

Union County hits: 2B — Mandy Griffin 2, Mann, Katie Griffin, Reynolds. HR — Mandy Griffin. 1B — Mann, Katie Griffin, Reynolds 3, Mandy Griffin, Stratton, Baur.