High School Sports

On to South State: Harrison Central softball rallies past Brandon

 Harrison Central's Madison Burge helped lead the Red Rebelettes to a Tuesday sweep of Brandon. HCHS lost Game 1 of the Class 6A series Monday but rallied Tuesday to advance to South State.
SUN HERALD Harrison Central's Madison Burge helped lead the Red Rebelettes to a Tuesday sweep of Brandon. HCHS lost Game 1 of the Class 6A series Monday but rallied Tuesday to advance to South State.

LYMAN -- Harrison Central isn't quite ready to give up the Class 6A fastpitch crown. After falling in the series opener Monday, the Red Rebelettes rallied Tuesday, sweeping Brandon 9-0 and 7-2 to win the second-round playoff series and advance to the South State championship this weekend.

Red Rebelettes coach Jimmy Parker said the series win gives Harrison Central a boost heading into the South State series against the winner of the Oak Grove-St. Martin series.

"My senior year was not going to end here to Brandon," said Madison Burge, who won the third game in relief. "I want to go out like our senior class the last two years."

"We knew they were a tough team," Parker said of Brandon. "We knew we had to get past this series."

While Harrison Central kept alive the possibility of a three-peat, having won the fastpitch title in 2014 and 2015, Parker said the Rebels weren't taking anything for granted.

"We can't look past this weekend," he said.

While the Red Rebelettes have yet to play Oak Grove, they beat St. Martin 8-3 on April 2.

The Red Rebelettes (23-4) won the first game Tuesday behind Kristen Cade's two-hit performance. Cade was dominant on the mound, throwing just 84 pitches to pick up the win. She allowed only four baserunners and struck out seven batters.

Cade pitched the first two innings of the nightcap before giving way to Burge to start the third inning. Burge, who lost Monday 2-1 when Brandon (28-3) pushed a run across in the bottom of the seventh, pitched in trouble all night long. She allowed at least one baserunner in each of her five innings. Still, she did not allow a run to cross the plate until the seventh when Brandon scored an unearned run.

Burge gave up six hits over five innings to pick up the win, stranding seven Brandon baserunners in the process.

"I am really proud of our pitchers," Parker said.

Parker said he wanted to give Burge some more rest after Monday's loss and that he was able to start Cade in the second game due to her efficiency in the first game. Cade came out after the second inning, an inning where Brandon scored their first run off Aidan Nichols' triple, driving in AnnElyse Nichols, who reached on a single.

While Parker spoke about great pitching, Brandon coach Heidi Hill said the Bulldogs did not hit the ball well in the doubleheader.

"We are a better hitting team than what we showed today," Hill said. "We didn't get the key hits we usually get. It just wasn't our day today."

Although Brandon took the first game 2-1 on Monday, Parker said the Red Rebelettes were confident offensively after the first game, having left a number of runners on base.

"That encouraged us," Parker said, noting the Rebels couldn't get the big hit Monday. "We felt really confident Tuesday and thought if we could put the ball in play, we would have a good chance. We finally got the middle of the order hitting."

The Red Rebelettes recorded eight hits in the opener and 10 hits in the second game.

In the first game, Harrison Central took a 3-0 run off three singles, including Simone McKinney's RBI single to open the scoring, and two wild pitches that allowed McKinney and Desirea Lindsey, who also singled, to score.

The Red Rebelettes added three runs each in the fifth and sixth inning to put opener away. Amari Ramsey drove in three runs late, hitting a two-

RBI triple in the sixth. Ashley Arnold contributed a flair two RBI double in the fifth as the Red Rebelettes pulled away.

"I was swinging at anything close," Ramsey said. "I had to hit the ball and put it in play."

In the second game, the Red Rebelettes scored four runs in the fifth to take control of the game. Ramsey's two-run single was the big blow in the inning as she finished with five RBIs in the doubleheader. In the seventh, Ramsey hustled down the first base line to beat out an errant throw from the pitcher on a swinging bunt that allowed two more runs to score.

Ramsey finished the doubleheader going 3-for-8. Kayla Cade added three hits, a triple, and an RBI in the second game. Brandon mainly pitched around Burge, but the senior pitcher was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, and three walks. McKinney added two singles and a stolen base in the opener and had three hits in the doubleheader.

Nichols had two hits to lead Brandon in the nightcap. Amber Pack and McCall Lee connected on back-to-back two-out, fourth-inning singles to account for the Bulldogs' hits in the opener. Pack singled and drove in a run in the second game and Lee connected on an infield single in the second game.