About all you can say is . . . Wow! That, my friends, is the play-by-play of the last two games the MCHS Lady Patriots have played.
When this season started, a lot of us had visions of a really nice postseason run. Then pitcher Cali McCraw was shelved and fleet footed center fielder Emma Austin was summoned from the outfield to pitch.
It didn't go well at first, but the gutsy little fly-chaser soon began to figure it out and acquitted herself very well in her last couple of games.
Then McCraw was once again pronounced good to go and the girls kinda started over. While McCraw hasn't dominated lately like she did in the early season, having Austin back in center has given the girls a virtually air-tight outfield with Jenna Bunting patrolling left and Paige Box in right.
The trend towars their normal positioning has ignited the offense and it has shown in these last two "mucho importante" games.
Monday had the ladies hosting Carterville, and it was a wild and wooly one.
Massac just hung a 6-2 loss on the Lady Lions last week, and they were out for some payback. Carterville drew first blood in the first inning but Austin tied it up at one in the bottom of the second with an RBI single.
Massac tacked on two more in the bottom of the third with a Macy Pierce homer and a pop fly single by Duckworth.
Carterville roared back with five in the top of the fourth for a 6-3 lead. Massac was the beneficiary of some sloppy Carterville play in the bottom of the fourth as three runs scored, two on an overthrow to first base.
The 7-6 lead didn't last long though as the Lady Lions "stole" the tying run in the top of the sixth. With runners on first and third and two out, their trailing runner was caught stealing but got herself into a rundown and an alert lead runner scampered home before Massac got the first base runner out. Massac was unfazed and put up a big four spot in the bottom of the sixth.
But Carterville wasn't going down easy either as the Lady Lions backed Massac starter McCraw into a tight corner in the top of the seventh, loading the bags with no outs. She almost got out of it before Carterville broke through and plated three runs to tie things up at 10.
The bottom of the seventh told the tale. Kaylee Batha got things rolling with a double. Pierce was intentionally walked setting up the possibility of a double play. It was almost the perfect strategy. ALMOST!
With two outs in the book and two runners still on base, McCraw got the chance to help herself. Quickly down two strikes, McCraw fought off a good inside fastball before getting the big part of the bat on a pitch a little away from her. It looked good off the bat and when it cleared the outfielder, and then the fence, it looked really good!
13-10 was the final setting up Tuesday's match-up with another team that Massac beat this year.
Marion was a 5-3 loser at Massac back in the middle of March and were looking for a little revenge. Marion also had supplanted Massac as the team to beat when McCraw went on the shelf for about a month.
But the "status was quo" at Marion and with McCraw and Co. getting back to normal in Metropolis, the trend lines intersected Tuesday afternoon.
Massac looked to be on cruise control through five innings, owning a 6-0 lead going into the fifth. But Marion came up with one run in the fifth, two in the sixth and a huge three spot in the seventh to tie it up at six all.
Two scoreless innings later McCraw found herself center stage again in the top of the ninth inning with pinch runner Kennedy Burgess standing at second representing the go-ahead run.
McCraw lined a single to left center and Burgess brought home the eventual game-winning run. Not without a little more drama though.
Marion had the tying run on second with one out, but McCraw got a line-out and a one hopper to third to end the threat and send the Lady Pats into the championship game Friday afternoon.
At the risk of jinxing the girls, the Pats won a 10-5 game just over a week ago against their Friday opponent Carbondale.
With McCraw back in the circle, a "salty" offense and a defense that is sometimes spectacular, this team resembles the team that beat a powerful Harrisburg team earlier this year and was one of the "South's" elite teams. We'll see Friday.