Trailing entering the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday, Van Buren coach Andy Williams told his team no matter what, he was proud of them.
The Lady Pointers gave Williams a lot more to be proud about when rallied for a 7-6 win against Heritage in 7A/6A-West play.
Van Buren trailed 6-0 in the second inning and was down 6-3 entering the bottom of the seventh.
"I told them before the seventh, I don’t care how the game ends, I’m proud of you because you gave yourselves a chance to win the game; you stuck around and kept fighting the whole game and now you’ve got a chance to win, and dang if we didn’t pull it off," Williams said. "We got some luck, but how we got luck was we swung the bat and put the ball in play. If you put it in play, you’ve got a chance."
Tuesday’s win also kept hopes alive for the Lady Pointers (9-14, 6-6) for a 7A State Tournament berth. Heritage (13-10, 7-6) is still ahead of Van Buren in the standings, but the Lady Pointers own the tiebreaker after sweeping the home-and-home conference games against the Lady War Eagles.
"That’s the biggest comeback in school history to get a win. … I’ve been telling them for a week that this game here can either give us a chance to go or we’ll be out if we lose this game because they’ll be two up on us plus the tiebreaker," Williams said. "We’ve still got some mathematical chances by winning this game; if we didn’t, we were done."
Van Buren got the first two batters on base in the seventh. Then with one out, Tori Stafford drove in a run with a single that cut the Heritage lead to 6-4. The next batter, Lauren Tipton, was down in the count 0-2 but was able to drill a two-run double to deep left, which scored two runs for a 6-6 tie.
Williams put in Jessica Smith to run at second for Tipton. Smith then went to third on a single by Destiny Moses, a ball which deflected off the glove of Heritage shortstop Hannah Briggs.
Ashlee Deffenbaugh came up next for Van Buren and hit a grounder right to Briggs, who threw to home as Smith broke toward the plate. It appeared Heritage catcher Abby Newton got the tag in time on a sliding Smith, but the home plate umpire ruled the ball was dropped and signaled Smith was safe with the winning run.
"He said that (Newton) dropped the ball and (Smith) got her hand in, so, I mean, what can you say?" Heritage coach Tiffany Taylor said. "I didn’t see it, I never saw her make it to the plate."
Moses pitched 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to get the win. She came on with the Lady Pointers down 6-0 in the second but was able to hold Heritage to no runs on four hits and struck out four.
Ashton Sangster went 3-for-4 for Van Buren, including an RBI double in the fifth to start the comeback. Tipton had two doubles and drove in three runs, while Stafford was 2-for-3.
The Lady War Eagles scored a run in the first and added five more in the second off of six hits while also taking advantage of three Van Buren errors.
Van Buren 7, Rogers Heritage 6
Heritage 150 000 0 — 6 12 0
Van Buren 000 012 4 — 7 9 3
Donahoe and Newton; Stafford, Moses (2) and Tipton. W - Moses. L - Donahoe. HRs - None.