Backed into a corner without his starting pitcher Jasmine Agee, who suffered an injury Tuesday, Magna Vista softball coach Brian Brinegar turned to his next best option: Hannah Savedge.
However, Savedge, who regularly starts at catcher, hadn’t thrown since seventh grade. Not knowing what to expect, Brinegar only knew his team had to score runs, and even with the 12 runs the Warriors did score, it almost wasn’t enough.
Sara Poff’s walk-off two-run single in the eighth inning lifted Magna Vista to a wild 12-11 extra-innings victory over McMichael (N.C.) on Wednesday in Ridgeway. Poff was just one of five Warrior hitters who registered multi-hit games.
“We scored 12 runs and honestly this thing should be done in five innings, but right now without having our starting pitcher, a win still feels good,” Brinegar said. “We made several errors that were uncalled-for and we’ll work on that. There are still things that have to be done defensively, but I’ve been really impressed with how we’re hitting the ball right now.”
The Magna Vista (5-3) defense committed five errors, which led to four of the 11 runs being unearned. Savedge went seven innings, struck out four, walked three and scattered nine hits. And while her effort was good enough to earn her the win, her performance at the top of the Warriors lineup was even better.
The senior went 4-for-5 with four runs scored, reaching base in all five plate appearances. Hailey Williams also added a 4-for-5 game with a pair of runs and RBIs, while McKala Jarrell picked up the win in the eighth inning and also scored four runs offensively with a two-hit game.
“I knew I had a good team to back me up so it didn’t feel that bad,” said Savedge of her first high school start. “They definitely had some good hitters, and I just wanted to throw strikes. I was actually surprised I struck someone out. I just had to do what the team needed me to.”
The top four hitters in the Magna Vista lineup combined to go 13-for-19, 11 runs and seven RBIs.
“I’m very proud of (Savedge) because she hasn’t been practicing pitching and we didn’t know this was going to happen to us,” Brinegar said. “For Hannah to step up and pitch for the first time since seventh grade, I thought was an unbelievable performance.
“She’s our leader, she’s our go-to person and she leads by example; our quiet leader. She’s batting over .500 this season and sets the table. With Makayla (Jarrell) behind her and how she’s produced it’s been a good 1-2 combination.”
Savedge led off the eighth with her fourth hit of the game — a double to center field. Jarrell was then hit by a pitch and Williams reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Poff then ripped a 2-2 pitch to center for the winning RBIs.
“I like having the bases loaded and coming up. It puts the pressure on me, but that’s when I do my best,” Poff said. “Coach told us to keep our heads up and we just fed off each other. It’s fun to be down by one and then come away with a win.”
Savedge opened up a three-run first inning for the Warriors by lacing a first-pitch single to left. Following a fielder’s choice that was late on a force attempt at second, and an RBI single by Williams, Poff delivered a two-run double to right field.
McMichael answered in the third inning the second time through its lineup as the top of the Phoenix lineup was also potent. A throwing error by Savedge on a force at second opened up a window for the middle of the McMichael order. Three straight hits, including back-to-back doubles by Brianna Joyce and Kayla Hailey made it a 4-3 game. McMichael’s No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters combined to go 7-for-15, with six runs batted in and three runs scored.
Joyce had three doubles in a four-hit game.
Magna Vista retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with five runs. A string of six consecutive hits by the Warriors chased McMichael starting pitcher Kayla Hailey from the game. Two of the five runs in the inning were unearned.
The Phoenix got one run back in the fifth, and then took the lead for the second time with a five-run sixth inning. Savedge didn’t help her cause by walking the first three batters she faced, all of which eventually scored.
“We had a slow start in the beginning and then came alive in the third inning. We answered in both the third and the sixth innings and they were our big innings,” McMichael coach Rhonda Kallam said. “The top and bottom of our lineup did some things, whereas it was mainly the top of theirs that provided the runs. Unfortunately it was their top of the lineup that came up in the eighth.”
Another leadoff walk scored for the Phoenix as Joyce doubled home Tierra Bowman for an 11-10 lead. Jarrell worked out the early threat by stranding Joyce at third with a groundout and two fly outs.
“Brianna (Joyce) was 3-for-4 tonight, and that’s not unusual for her,” Kallam said. “She’s a junior who has been playing varsity since she was a freshman. She’s dedicated and gives a 110 percent all the time.”
Magna Vista is off until April 9 when it opens up Piedmont District play at 5 p.m. at Martinsville.