IVA, S.C. - The last time she strode to the plate with the game on the line, Crescent pinch-hitter Savannah McCracken grounded to third base to seal the Silver Bluff win Monday.
On Wednesday in the second game of the Class AA state championship series at Crescent High School, McCracken ended the contest again.
But this time, she closed it out in style.
McCracken looped a two-out single to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning scoring Karmen Slaton from second to give the Lady Tigers a 2-1 win against the Lady Bulldogs and even the best-of-three series at 1-1.
For McCracken, whose team will play Silver Bluff (30-4) at 6 p.m. Friday at Greenwood High School for the state title, it was just a matter of getting past her fears.
"I was pretty nervous, but I was trying to make sure that didn't get to me," McCracken said. "With two outs and runners on in the last inning, I'm usually put in that situation."
It ended up saving Crescent's (28-2) season and putting it in an enviable situation.
Just like last year - when Silver Bluff won the first game of the series only to drop the last two - Crescent will come into the last contest of the season with all kinds of momentum.
"It was the same situation as last year," McCracken said. "We knew we could do it. That's what we keep telling ourselves."
But Silver Bluff, which was held hitless through the first six innings, have reason to maintain a little confidence.
After Jenna Burdette hit a double in the bottom of the fourth and her sister, pitcher Ashlea, knocked her in with a single to give the Lady Tigers a 1-0 lead, the Lady Bulldogs made a strong comeback in the top of the seventh.
Casey Hall led off the inning with a single, and pitcher Bridget Loudermilk (27-4) knocked a triple over the head of Crescent centerfielder Amber Price to knot the game at 1-1.
But after the relay throw from second base got away from catcher Jenna Burdette, Loudermilk tried to score the go-ahead run. Unfortunately for Silver Bluff, the errant ball hit the home-plate umpire's mask, Jenna recovered and fired a strike to Ashlea at the plate to nail Loudermilk and end the threat.
"I hesitated at third, because I saw it hit the umpire's mask," said Loudermilk, who gave up eight hits. "I thought it would come back to the plate, but it went off to the left and I went."
From there Loudermilk got the first two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but the Lady Tigers put runners on first and second before McCracken's heroics.
"It's going to be tough, because they have the momentum," Silver Bluff coach Eric Hofstetter said. "But we have until Friday to do some soul-searching. We'll see what we're made of."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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