MIDWAY — After watching its lead disappear, Oak Grove quickly got to work building another.
The Grizzlies, after losing a four-run lead, scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth and beat rival Ledford 8-4 in Central Carolina 2A Conference softball Thursday at Oak Grove.
It was the first time Oak Grove beat the Panthers in the program’s young history.
“We played like we can,” Grizzlies coach Danielle DiLuzio said. “We hit one through nine, we played defense, and our pitching was on. That’s what we’re capable of.
“I think having a team full of really good leaders and really mature kids played a big part in it,” she said of her team’s late rally. “And we have some young kids out there who just followed suit.”
Aliyah Compton went 2 for 3 with an RBI while Alissa Russ went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI for Oak Grove (5-1 overall, 4-0 CCC), which lost to Ledford 10-9 in a nonconference game March 22.
Allie Johnston added a double and an RBI, and Carly White and Emily Roumillat each had a hit and an RBI as the Grizzlies tallied 10 hits for the game — including five during the decisive sixth inning.
“I think we played great,” said Compton, a senior shortstop. “Four years and we finally did it — it feels really good.”
Oak Grove led 4-0 through three innings, but Ledford tied the game in the top of the sixth on Sophie Conger’s two-run, inside-the-park home run. The Grizzlies, however, quickly rebounded with four runs in the bottom half.
“We wanted to keep the intensity up, fight back and give it everything we had — and we did it,” Compton said. “It was so good. It felt so amazing.”
Kady Livesay singled through the left side with one out, and pinch-hitter Lexi Weisner dropped a bunt in front of home plate. The throw to first sailed past first base and beyond the outfielder backing up the play.
Livesay rounded the bases to score the go-ahead run. Roumillat and Compton followed with back-to-back RBI singles to left and, two batters later, Johnston roped a two-out double to center to give Oak Grove an 8-4 lead.
Russ, getting the win in relief of Shae Grainger, who pitched 5 2/3 innings, retired the Panthers 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to secure the victory.
“(Ledford) is a well-coached team,” DiLuzio said. “They always have really good athletes and they’re very well-coached. I think we’ve had the capability all along, but they showed themselves what they can do.
“It’s just nice when you work for something for four years and you see it show up when it matters. That’s big. So, we’ve got a couple tough games coming up and that’s just a huge momentum boost.”
Conger had a home run and two RBIs while Zalma Ontiveros had a home run and one RBI for Ledford (5-2, 3-1), which also had a couple errors in the third inning during which the Grizzlies scored three runs to lead 4-0.
Chloe Everhart doubled and Juli Motsinger had a hit and an RBI as the Panthers scored single runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings before Conger’s two-out shot down the right-field line that skipped by the outfielder.
Everhart took the loss in the circle, pitching 5 1/3 innings before giving way to Sophie Wheat. Ledford totaled six hits for the game, but struggled with a handful of miscues.
“It was a lot of little things,” Ledford coach Charlie Brown said. “We had some backwards K’s, some baserunning errors — it was all little things, the whole thing was little things. You get down in a rivalry game like this and they had a lot of energy — I didn’t think we matched their energy.
“It is what it is. Hopefully we can come back. They’re a tough team — and we knew that — and we’ve got a couple tough ones coming up. So, we’ll get back to work tomorrow at practice and try to get our groove back — got to get our swag back.”
Both teams play again Tuesday on the road. Oak Grove — which is tied with perennial powerhouse North Davidson atop the CCC standings — faces East Davidson, while Ledford — which dropped into a tie for third with Central Davidson — takes on West Davidson.
mlindsay@hpenews. com | 336-888-3526 | @HPEmichael