Greenbrier High School softball coach Garrett Black had reason for doubt during the Lady Wolfpack's game Thursday at Lakeside High.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning Greenbrier led 5-1, but the Lady Panthers proceeded to claw back in the Region 3-AAAA showdown - Lakeside's M.J. Trahan led off with a single, Jamie Lake added a one-out hit, and Laura Freeman followed with an RBI single.
Then, with two outs and runners on the corners, Colleen Markyna stepped to the plate. The Lakeside junior already had sent two balls off the outfield wall, and another shot could drive in two more runs.
''The spark was in their eyes,'' Lakeside coach Richie Carnes said. ''We were right back in it in that last inning, and they knew they could do it.''
At that point, it would have been easy for Black to lament Greenbrier's baserunning blunders and botched bunts, earlier miscues that helped make Lakeside's late rally possible.
But Black wasn't blue. ''I was worried but not as worried as I'd have been in the past,'' he said. ''I believe in the girls. They'll get the job done and find a way to win.''
Greenbrier pitcher Kristan Glover delivered, Markyna connected, and center fielder Kiley Moranski made a running catch to seal the 5-2 win. Glover finished with eight strikeouts, while Eve Motlow (2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI), Amy Rigdon (3 for 3, 2 RBIs) and Heather Beale (2-2, RBI) led the Lady Pack offensively.
''Amy came up big today and Eve had a good day,'' Black said. ''Heather Beale's mom died last week, and she's shown a lot of strength and become a leader on this ballclub. The whole team has gone through a lot in the last week and a half. I'm proud of how they've responded.''
Lakeside also experienced a recent setback - during a 3-2 win Tuesday at Statesboro, pitcher Amanda McGraw dislocated a finger on her throwing hand while sliding into first base. The senior underwent surgery Friday and is questionable for this week's final two regular-season games.
Junior pitcher Ashlee Pate may now have to carry the load for Lakeside (17-8, 4-1 in Region 3-AAAA). Laura Freeman will be counted on for senior leadership; she came through Thursday, turning two double plays to thwart Greenbrier.
With the victory over Lakeside, Greenbrier improved its record to 22-4, and 5-0 in region play. The Lady Pack closes the regular season this week at the Brierpatch with region games against Thomson and Statesboro.
Should the Lady Pack sweep those games, they would be the No. 1 seed for the region tournament, which begins Oct. 1 at Burke County High School.
Greenbrier has won five straight region titles, and Black senses the Lady Pack is primed to make it six in a row. ''I've just got a feeling I haven't had in the last five years,'' he said. ''If we get our execution down when we have to, this team can be dangerous.''
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.