Wolverines outlast rain, Sauras to get walkoff playoff victory

Polk County senior pitcher Haley Fowler fires a strike during Friday's win.

Polk County made certain Friday that Cinderella’s magic wouldn’t make it until midnight.

With darkness nearing, the Wolverines pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh to hand upset-minded South Stokes a 3-2 defeat in the second round of the state 1A softball playoffs.

Polk County (15-6) will face top-seeded North Stokes in next week’s third round. The Vikings (21-3) defeated Murphy 1-0 to win their second-round battle.

Rain and lightning also plagued Polk County, with Friday’s game stopped in the bottom of the third inning with South Stokes owning a 2-0 lead.

The score may have surprised some, with the Sauras owning a 2-19 record entering the game, one of those wins coming Wednesday in the their playoff opener. Not Wolverine head coach Jamie Thompson, who expected a battle with the team that eliminated Polk County last season; the two runs that South Stokes scored in the top of the third proved Thompson was right.

The mid-game rain delay lasted some 90 minutes, and Polk County seemed in a better frame of mind once it ended, tying the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, which senior Autumn Owen opened by reaching on an error, stealing second racing to third when the throw to second skipped into the outfield.

South Stokes intentionally walked Karli Wood and Hannah Emory to load the bases. With one out, Morgan Stott sliced a soft liner just in front of the Sauras’ left side of the infield, allowing Wood to race home and slide in ahead of the throw to the plate for the winning run.

“We found a way to win,” Thompson said. “Everybody played a role. We played good defense, with just one error. The bottom of the lineup tied the game up for us. They got the job done for us.

“We had runners in scoring position all game long, but we just couldn’t get the hit to get them in.”

The runs Polk County did get came in the bottom of the fourth. Emory opened the inning with a base hit., Anna McFadden followed with a single and an error on a Stott grounder allowed pinch runner Alana Jergenson to score.

The Wolverines loaded the bases with no outs following that first run before South Stokes got two quick outs. Maranda Gosnell then ripped a single up the middle to drive in Stott with the tying run.

South Stokes threatned in the sixth and seventh innings, moving a runner to third in both frames, but were unable to get the hit they needed off winning pitcher Haley Fowler.

“Haley pitched her guts out,” Thompson said. “We knew they would hit the ball. Just because they were 2-19, they’re a tough team.”

Fowler finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, with Gosnell also 2-for-4.