PETTICOAT JUNCTION, S.C. -- This year's Silver Bluff softball team had accomplished more than any team preceding it.
But the look of dismay that crossed the Lady Bulldogs' faces Monday night only proved that they wanted more.
That look of dismay was placed there by Andrews High, the defending Class AA state champions which the Bulldogs had just beaten 5-2 in a Lower State game last Wednesday.
That victory couldn't have possibly made Silver Bluff feel any comfort as they watched Andrews' players douse their coaches in water and snap team pictures on Bulldog soil.
This was the Lower State championship game and Silver Bluff needed only one victory to move on to play for the state title. The Yellow Jackets raced away to an 11-4 victory in the first contest, but hope wasn't lost as the record-crowd at Silver Bluff roared with confidence that the Bulldogs could pull it through.
Things only got worse for Silver Bluff as it watched its season expire each time Andrews crossed the plate en route to a 14-2 drubbing against the District 6 champs.
Andrews (26-5) will play the Crescent-Chapin winner on Friday for the Class AA state title in Florence while the Bulldogs end their most successful season in school history with a 21-4 mark.
"We played that first game not to lose and didn't play to win and that led to some hesitation that cost us," Bulldogs coach Eric Hofstetter said. "I tried to tell them not to look ahead, but I think we may have been overconfident from beating them before. We've come a long way, but today just wasn't our day."
It looked like it in the second inning of the first game when the Bulldogs scored four runs, sparked by seventh grade third baseman Casey Hall's double that brought in all-state catcher Jayme Durand.
Casey went 2-for-3 in the first game, but that's as much as the Bulldogs got against Jackets ace Brandy Parsons. Parsons allowed only two more hits in that game and a lowly three in the next.
"We didn't show much in the game we lost to them last week (Wednesday," Andrews coach Craig Evans said. "We were cursed with a lot of pop-outs and I think that curse carried over to them today. Brandy pitched 14 good innings and the defense was very supportive with some big plays."
The offense wasn't too shabby, either. All-state shortstop Summer Joyner went 7-for-8 with four RBI in the two games to lead an array of Jackets multiple hitters, who torched a struggling Bulldog outfield.
Silver Bluff seemed helpless as the Jackets capitalized off infield errors, misplayed fly balls and wild pitches. Bulldog ace Jenny Vinson was relieved in the fifth inning of the second contest after Andrews scored two runs in the fourth off her wild pitches.
The Jackets put the nail in the coffin by hitting reliever Durand for five runs in the top of the seventh to douse any Bulldog hope of a comeback.
"These girls have never seen a crowd here this big and I don't know if that scared them a little," Hofstetter added. "We missed some routine plays that we usually make. We just had too many pop-outs and you can't take credit from Andrews -- they just out played us."
Andrews -- 004 430 0 -- 11 16 2
Silver Bluff 040 000 0 -- 4 5 4
Brandy Parsons (W) and Jessica Foster. Jenny Vinson (L) and Jayme Durand. 3B: Ashley Eaddy (A) Summer Joyner (A). 2B: Casey Hall (SB), E. Montgomery 2 (A). Leading Hitters: Silver Bluff: Hall 2-3 with double. Andrews: Joyner 5-5 with triple, double and three RBI, E. Montgomery 2-4 with two doubles and three RBI, Tasha Lynch 2-5, Jessica Foster 2-5.
Andrews -- 050 301 5 -- 14 11 3
Silver Bluff -- 001 010 0 -- 2 3 6
Brandy Parsons (W) and Jessica Foster. Jenny Vinson (L) and Jayme Durand. 3B: Shantea Green (SB). 2B: Catherine Lewis (A). Leading hitters: Andrews; Joyner 3-4, Kristen Gibbons 3-5. Andrews (26-5) plays Crescent-Chapin winner for Class AA state title on Friday. Silver Bluff ends season 21-4.
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