Jubilant Jarrett: Sophomore catcher’s walk-off hit lifts Spring Garden past Cedar Bluff, on to state softball tournament

Spring Garden’s Maggie Jarrett jumps up in celebration from second base following her walk-off double against Cedar Bluff in the East Softball Regional at Albertville’s Sand Mountain Park on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

ALBERTVILLE – Spring Garden sophomore catcher Maggie Jarrett and her dad Greg work on game-winning softball scenarios constantly in the batting cage on their own outside of the Lady Panthers’ practices.

Games like Thursday afternoon’s against rival Cedar Bluff in the East Softball Regional at Sand Mountain Park are the reason why.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and the game tied at 4 following Lilly McCain’s run-scoring single, Jarrett walked things off with a double to left field to score Helena Ingram with the winning run in the Lady Panthers’ dramatic 5-4 victory.

Spring Garden’s win – which spanned two days after a pair of weather delays on Wednesday and Thursday – clinched the regional’s second qualifier spot and a berth in next week’s Class 1A state tournament in Oxford. They’ll play South Regional champion Leroy at Choccolocco Park on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

“The batters before me really got up, got the mojo going, got the team pumped, so when I got up there, I felt pretty good,” said Jarrett, who went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. “It’s a special feeling. Deep down we all knew we could do it. Once they got on (base), that just proved to us we could work through it. We’ve just got to lay it all out there.

“One thing I love about this team is we never quit. We never give up.”

Spring Garden coach Stephanie Steward said “that’s the reward for putting in the work she’s done.”

“Her and her dad are up at the field hitting all the time. He’ll say ‘Okay, it’s 3-2 and two outs.’ He’ll feed her a ball and give her situations,” Steward said.

Spring Garden coach Ann Welsh, who has overcome a battle with breast cancer this year, watched from the dugout as the Lady Panthers’ late-inning heroics unfolded.

“I told Coach (Barrett) Ragsdale and (Coach) Madison (Sides) ‘We’re going to do this,’” she said. “Hits are contagious, and we just kept hitting and hitting. We fought through there. They were very determined and focused.”

Jarrett’s walk-off double spoiled Cedar Bluff’s three-run comeback in the top of the seventh inning, which gave the Lady Tigers a 4-3 lead. A pair of walks by Rylie Walker and Natalie Baty preceded a Reece Patterson RBI-single to right, then a two-run double to center by Ciana Smith.

That set the stage for Spring Garden in its final at-bat, and the Lady Panthers delivered.

Leadoff batter Avery Steward sent a line shot that was caught by Smith for the first out of the inning. Kayley Kirk followed with a bouncing ball over Patterson’s reach, then Helena Ingram reached on an error at third to give the Lady Panthers runners at first and second.

McCain brought home Kirk on a single to left for the tying run, setting the stage for Jarrett’s walk-off hit that scored Ingram.

“The first two hits (in the seventh) were not hard hits. They were in the infield and on the ground. We just told them to keep putting it on the ground and something will happen. It did,” Steward said.

“We pushed through,” McCain said. “We just needed one run to tie the game. Helena got on base with one out, then I got on base. I was struggling all day, but I was like ‘I’m not striking out.’ I finally got a hit and we tied it up, then Maggie comes up and gets a hit and we win. The adrenaline was crazy. It was such a big moment for us. We don’t have the seniors from last season, so we had to grow up and be big. We did it.”

In their sixth battle with Cedar Bluff on the softball diamond this season, Spring Garden took a 2-0 advantage with single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings. Ingram tripled in a run in the bottom of the first inning and Madi Ham delivered a bunt single to score another in the second.

Cedar Bluff got on the board in the top of the fifth on Mattie Payne’s grounder to short that scored Walker, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

Spring Garden got that run back in the bottom half of the fifth. Ingram had an infield single to lead off and scored on Jarrett’s grounder to short to put the Lady Panthers up 3-1.

After a scoreless sixth, Cedar Bluff came through with its three-run seventh to go ahead.

“They’re really a resilient group. It’s kind of been that way all year,” Cedar Bluff coach Garrett Crane said. “We’ve never counted ourselves out of any ball game. We find a way, chip away, find a walk, hit a single, get the timely hit. They’re never out of a ball game.

“We were in a really good place there (in the top of the seventh). Our lineup is really deep. We really think if we can get back to the top of our lineup especially we’ve got a really good chance, but credit on their end as well. They’re scrappy. They made us field it. Their resiliency showed there at the end as well. All the credit to them for taking advantage of that situation (in the bottom of the seventh).”

Avery Steward earned the win for Spring Garden after going the two-day distance. Patterson suffered the tough-luck loss after also going the extra-long outing. She finished with six strikeouts and was also 2-for-4 at the plate with a RBI.

Patterson is one of five Cedar Bluff seniors who played their final game on Thursday. Baty, Payne, Haley Allen and Harlie Nelson are the other four

“Reece threw extremely well today and threw extremely well all week, throughout the whole year really and her whole career,” Crane said. “She’s really left an impact on what it is to be a great pitcher, a great athlete and great person. I’m really proud of her and the other seniors for what all they’ve done for our program.”

Cedar Bluff’s Reece Patterson delivers a pitch against Spring Garden on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print