South Stokes ends Polk’s playoff hopes in second-round victory

Polk County catcher Autumn Owen retires a runner at home on a force play during Thursday's loss to South Stokes.

As line drive after line drive failed to find a safe landing spot Thursday, Polk County softball coach Jamie Thompson began to realize that the Wolverines’ day in the warm afternoon sun was not meant to be.

Whenever Polk County needed a timely hit in its 2A second-round playoff battle, a South Stokes glove usually was in the way, and the Sauras capitalized en route to a 9-1 victory over the Wolverines.

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Rather than moving on to the third round for the first time since 2015, when Polk County eliminated South Stokes (14-12) in the first round, the Wolverines (12-7) instead ended the day gathered along the third-base line, taking part in the program’s tradition of allowing seniors to take a last lap around the bases. With players, coaches and fans applauding, Amber Miller, Ashley Ponder and Ashley Scruggs circled the infield for the final time in a Polk County uniform.

It wasn’t how the Wolverines expected the day to end.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Thompson said. “Sometimes, the ball has eyes. Today we were finding their gloves and they were finding holes.”

Polk County had its chances – the Wolverines had nine hits and left 10 runners on base – but could only manage a run in the second inning. With South Stokes up 3-0, Hannah Emory smashed a one-out single to deep right-center and Morgan Stott followed with an infield single, an error moving both runners up a base.

An out later (on a screaming line drive to third), a Sauras error allowed Emory to score, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

South Stokes added to Polk’s frustrations with more than its share of fly balls and soft line drives that dropped just between Wolverine defenders. But the Sauras also rang out a number of line drives of their own in a six-run sixth inning that effectively sealed Polk County’s fate. Desinty Agee, Lydia Jackson and Autumn Miller each had two-run hits in the inning as South Stokes sent 10 batters to the plate.

One of those was standout shortstop Katie Manring, who doubled as part of her 4-for-4 effort at the plate.

Stott, Maranda Gosnell and Autumn Owen each finished 2-for-3 to lead Polk County.