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Waterford baserunner Kari Carney, right, reacts after being tagged out on a force play by Warren catcher Olivia Congleton during the Warriors’ 5-4 victory at Warren High School. (Photo by Kerry Patrick)

VINCENT — Three softball teams could easily reflect back and think about a ‘what if’ moment which would have resulted in two wins in as many games.

Instead, Warren, Waterford and Parkersburg South each came away with a 1-1 record during their round-robin format Saturday at Warren High School.

Tea “Strike Out Cancer” event was devoted to the memory of 2003 Warren High School graduate and former Warrior middle school softball coach Jill Gates, who died on March 21.

In the first of three varsity games scheduled, Waterford trailed Parkersburg South 5-3 after four innings then rallied with a three-run fifth and broke a 6-6 tie with two runs with two outs in the top of the sixth inning behind Cara Taylor’s RBI triple and Laykyn Jones’ run-scoring single which ensued.

Leading 8-7, Waterford’s Kari Carney preserved the victory by tossing a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning. With one out and a runner on first base, Taylor provided the defensive gem of the game after chasing down a fly ball to deep center field and making the catch while stumbling on her backside.

Waterford returned for the second game of the day — this time with Warren as the opponent.

After Taylor scored on a wild pitch in Waterford’s half of the first, Warren answered in its first at-bat when Samantha Brown scored on a Wildcat two-out error. The two sides continued to trade runs with Taylor’s second-inning single bringing home Katie Lowe in inning No. 2, while Karlee Lynch followed suit with a two-out, run-scoring single in the Warren third.

Back and forth it continued as Taylor came through yet again with a two-out base hit which resulted in a Waterford 3-2 lead. Warren maintained the pace in the fifth when Ella McFarland’s single allowed Kenzie Nelson to score from third base.

Fielding took a backseat for both teams in the sixth inning as four errors — two on each side — were committed. As the leadoff hitter in the Wildcat half of the sixth, Lowe reached safely on a fielding miscue and scored the final Waterford run of the game.

Warren trailed 4-3 in last half of the sixth. Olivia Congleton and Aiyana Hancock led off the frame with singles and the Warriors took advantage on one errant throw and another dropped throw.

Looking for the win on the mound, Nelson escaped Waterford runners on second and third base with one out by inducing an infield ground out and registering her eighth strikeout for the final out of the game.

Other than the sixth inning, Waterford is looking at 2-0 while exiting the Warren High School campus. Instead, the Wildcats maintain a .500 record at 6-6.

“We haven’t lost to any slouches this season,” Waterford coach Doug Baldwin said. “So the games we have lost have been good competition. We’re getting better — we are getting more and more hits throughout the lineup.”

In the third and final game of the event, pitching from Warren starter Aiyana Hancock was plain filthy for nearly a five-inning stretch. After allowing two first inning runs, Hancock retired 14 South batters in succession, including eight on strikes.

The two teams deadlocked at 2 after Warren scored a run in the first inning when LaDea Waderker drew a base-loaded walk and Lynch’s infield grounder drove home McFarland in the second inning.

South finally solved Hancock with a two-out rally in the fifth inning. Becca Beatty walked, stole second and scored on Taylor Lamp’s double. The Patriots tacked on three more runs in the sixth inning. Kara Snyder and Shawnee Eddy opened with back-to-back singles and eventually scored. Alicia Lemus was credited with an RBI single.

After the count went 3-0 following the fifth-inning double, Warren coach Katie Dickson made a brief, yet effective visit to the mind. Whatever was communicated worked because Hancock registered one of her 12 strikeouts.

“I’m pretty good at knowing what she is thinking — I just needed to know what was going on in her head,” Dickson said. “She gave me a nod, and I said, ‘OK, we got this.’ It was a regrouping and getting us on the same page, and the pitches she was throwing.”

Lamp started for South and coach Tim Burch penciled her in for a few innings, but stayed with his gut feeling and kept the junior on the mound for the complete-game effort despite facing constant traffic on the basepaths. Lamp, who posted just one perfect inning, walked five and struck out four.

Warren ended the day at 6-5, while South moved to 9-8.

“I was only scheduling (Lamp) for three to four innings — she hasn’t really pitched that much this year at all,” Burch said. “That’s the most she has pitched all year. But I’m one of those coaches, you go until you go. Lamp hit the ball well and hit well, and kept us in the game.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com

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