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Prep Softball: Small ball leads Bulldogs to win over Carmi in regional semis

  • Harrisburg's Liza Wiggins makes this force out tag on Carmi-White County's Ava Zaranti in the second inning during Wednesday's IHSA Class 2A Regional semifinal at Center Park. Harrisburg rallied for a 4-2 win.

    Harrisburg's Liza Wiggins makes this force out tag on Carmi-White County's Ava Zaranti in the second inning during Wednesday's IHSA Class 2A Regional semifinal at Center Park. Harrisburg rallied for a 4-2 win.
    SPYDER DANN | mdanan@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 5/19/2022 9:24 AM

Harrisburg kept knocking on the door in Wednesday's IHSA Class 2A Regional semifinal against Carmi-White County.
Finally, in the sixth inning, the Bulldogs kicked the door open to win a 4-2 thriller at Center Park.
Down 2-0 in the sixth, Hallie Boggess came up with a seeing eye single to lead the inning off and with one out, Layla Borders reached via error, moving Boggess to second. Sidney Neal then roped a single to center field scoring Boggess, but it was a McKenzie Boyd safety squeeze that proved to be the difference as the sophomore infielder laid down a beauty that resulted in another Carmi-White County error, scoring Borders and Neal. Kerrigan Payne added an insurance run with an RBI ground out, scoring Boyd.
"We had some good at bats in the sixth inning," Harrisburg head coach Red Stafford said after the win. "Carmi's kid (Audrey Upton)is tough to hit, she throws harder than anyone we face, she hits her spots and she has a nice change up.
"We kept battling and have been preaching getting out bunts down and we can bunt, we score some runs. McKenzie got down a nice bunt, forced them make a decision and it allowed us to score a few runs. I thought Sidney came up with a big hit and Payne did a nice job driving in a run, but Boyd did a great job of bunting the ball there for us in the sixth."
Prior to that inning, Harrisburg had just one hit on the afternoon and had stranded seven runners. The Bulldogs finished the day with four hits and nine stranded
"We did the same thing when we played Carmi earlier in the season," Stafford added. "Kerrigan gave up two early runs, settled in and we were able to come back and get them 4-3. Today, Kerrigan pitched out of some jams, including a bases loaded situation in the second inning. She just did a great job pitching and we played great defense."
Payne improved to 19-10 on the season, giving up 10 hits on the day. The senior southpaw struck out three and walked two.
Carmi-White County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Liberty Smith singled to center and took second on the play. That followed a single to center by Audrey Upton
A sac-fly by Kendall Rooney scored Smith and a single to right center by KC Milligan scored Upton.
Upton struck out seven for the Bulldogs, giving up just one earned run, while walking two and hitting two batters.
Harrisburg (21-12) will now face Mt. Carmel in the championship game Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.