After Purvis’ loss to unbeaten Lawrence County a week ago, the Lady Tornadoes were left with no other choice but to win out in order to make the postseason. Three district wins later, the team is now playoff bound.
Tuesday night, in a winner-take-all game for the final playoff spot in Region 7-4A, the Lady Tornadoes run-ruled Sumrall, 12-2, to punch their ticket. A five-run third inning and a six-run sixth allowed Purvis to run away with it. Needing just one more run in the bottom of the sixth to invoke the mercy rule, Gracey Baucom came through with an RBI single, sending her squad to a walk-off win on Senior Night.
“The girls really stepped up,” Purvis head coach David Entrekin said. “We have a big senior class, and the girls really wanted to get in [to the playoffs]. I tell them all the time, we’ve got a strong division, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves with how strong it is. We just gotta step it up.
“It was good to see our seniors, on Senior Night, push us into the playoffs over a good Sumrall team.”
The Lady Cats looked to be in-store for a fast start Tuesday after their first two batters of the game got on base. But soon after, Baucom, Purvis’ starting pitcher, induced a ground ball which second baseman Kadie Hale turned into a double play. Baucom followed with a strikeout to end Sumrall’s early threat.
“Sumrall’s got some good hitters. Their leadoff hitter [Abigail Thexton] is one of the better hitters in our area,” Entrekin said. “After that first inning, Kadie Hale made a big double play to get us out of a jam. I think we fed off that, and Gracey just settled in and hit spots. And the defense played behind her.”
In the second inning, Sumrall scored the game’s first run off an RBI single from Karley Russell. Purvis answered back in the third with five runs. Sarah Ballard first scored on a wild pitch and later drew a bases-loaded walk. Gracie Cluff, Anna Claire Barrett and Katelyn Toney added RBIs for the Lady Tornadoes, who led 5-1 after three innings of play.
Shortly after a one-run fourth, Purvis added six more runs in the sixth to end the game early. Andee Robertson drew a bases-loaded walk, Ballard followed with a two-run double and Kalli McRaney added a two-run triple. Then Baucom tacked on the team’s 12th run of the night with her walk-off hit.
Purvis improved to 11-7 with the win and will close out the regular season on Thursday against FCAHS. The Lady Tornadoes will then host game one of their first round playoff series on Friday.
On the other side, Sumrall finishes its season at 14-8.
“I knew it was going to be a bad deal between Sumrall and Purvis, because there’s going to be a good team not in the playoffs,” Entrekin added. “We just happened to step up when we needed to.”