Give Jenny Shepherd a lead, and every spectator has a similar thought: game over.
But don't count the Evans pitcher among those who believe it.
"I don't feel comfortable with a lead," said Shepherd. "I always feel like there's room for them to come back."
Shepherd, one of three Knights seniors, helped carry Evans to a second consecutive Region 3-AAAA title.
The Knights earned the region's top seed after a 3-0 victory over Cross Creek in the title game at Patriots Park softball complex.
Shepherd struck out 12 Razorbacks in the deciding game. After the Knights' first couple of runs, highlighted by a Kayla Cates triple in the third, the mood in the Cross Creek dugout changed, Razorbacks coach Lisa White said.
"A pitcher like Jenny, it's hard to get one run in, let alone three," White said. "So their heads kind of went down."
Before the region tournament, Shepherd had not pitched since the first week of September, when she underwent knee surgery.
Doctors cleared her to play again the final week of September, but Evans coaches were more cautious.
"Sometimes she couldn't make it through the practice, and it looked like she wasn't ready," Evans coach Colette Cassedy said.
Shepherd was in the lineup to bat during the Knights' regular-season finale at Greenbrier, but did not pitch.
She made her return during the Knights' 15-0 victory over Butler to open the region tournament on Oct. 3. Shepherd then pitched all eight innings of a 2-1 win over Cross Creek later that day.
After pitching two gems Wednesday, there was little doubt about Shepherd's status.
"That's just her being back," Cassedy said.
Under the new format for state playoffs, the top two seeds from each region play host to a best-of-three series in the first round. Evans, which finished region play unbeaten, will play host to Wayne County on Tuesday.
Evans beat Harlem 7-1 to start play Tuesday.
The Bulldogs then lost 8-2 to Cross Creek to finish third in the region and will travel to their first-round destination.
Harlem coach Mike Leverett said he had been pleased with the way his young team had come together during the season and in the first round of region play. But the two losses Wednesday frustrated the Bulldogs coach.
"It will only get tougher when you play on the road," Leverett said. "We can bounce back and still be in this thing, we just have to do it away from home."
Lakeside lost to Cross Creek to start play Wednesday and finished as the region's fourth seed in coach Christina Steflik's first season as coach. The Panthers also will travel Wednesday.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.