Opportunities don’t break Polk’s way in playoff-opening setback

Opportune moments seemed to come at regular intervals in Tuesday’s 1A West Regional softball playoff game at Polk County.

Cornerstone Charter took advantage of nearly every one. Polk County did not. And that’s why the Wolverines’ season came to an end.

Cornerstone captured a 5-2 win over Polk in a first-round matchup, earning the 12-9 Cardinals a second-round trip later this week to East Wilkes.

The Wolverines ended their season with a 10-10 record and perhaps a regret or two over how Tuesday’s game unfolded. Cornerstone scored three runs in the third inning, two more in the sixth, and got just one ball out of the infield in the two rallies.

Polk County, meanwhile, had runners on base in every inning but one and twice had the bases loaded with two outs, but managed just one run in those innings. Cornerstone freshman Sidney Clark had something to do with that, striking out six and allowing five hits.

“We never could string hits together, which they did,” said Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson. “The girls gave great effort. Sometimes this is a game of inches and a game of feet and seems like that has bitten us a few times this year.”

Polk County grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second as Emily Prince reached base on an outfield error with two outs, with Allie Thompson’s single and Anna Hodge’s hit by pitch loading the bases before Prince scored on a wild pitch.

But the Cardinals answered in the top of the third, loading the bases on an infield single, a walk and an error with no outs. Polk County got one out at home on a grounder, but a walk to Alexis Hall forced in one run before Clark’s infield hit plated another. Janie Hawkins’ groundout drove in yet another to give Cornerstone a 3-1 lead.

The score remained that way until the sixth inning, when two walks and an error allowed Cornerstone to load the bases with no outs. Jaylin Jackson, on in relief of Hodge, got back-to-back outs, but an error on the potential final out of the inning allowed one run to score, and a walk to Hall brought in another and gave Cornerstone a 5-1 lead.

Polk loaded the bases in the sixth and didn’t score, but did get its final run in the bottom of the seventh as senior Morgan Stott drilled a double down the left-field line, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on Alana Jergenson’s single to close the scoring.

Jergenson, Stott, Prince and Anna McFadden each were 1-for-3 for the Wolverines with Thompson going 1-for-2.

“We had a decent season, including a first-round playoff game at home,” Thompson said. “I’m proud of them.”

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