St.Clair wills Sand Rock to win over Woodland, on to another day at East Softball Regional

Sand Rock senior shortstop Katelyn St.Clair rounds second base following her first-inning two-run homer against Woodland on Wednesday in Albertville. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

ALBERTVILLE – Sand Rock senior shortstop Katelyn St.Clair said she didn’t want Wednesday to be her last day of playing softball.

With the Lady Wildcats facing elimination following a 10-3 loss to Cleveland in their East Regional opener, St.Clair made sure she extended Sand Rock’s season at least one more game with a 10-9 victory over Woodland.

The Lady Bobcats never got St.Clair out in the game. She went 4-for-4 with a two-run blast to center field in the top of the first inning and just fell a single shy of the cycle.

As if that wasn’t enough, St.Clair made two spectacular plays on defense in the bottom of the seventh inning – one that started a double play and the other at deep short when she tossed a ball to first baseman Kailee Patterson to retire Lilly Kirby for the final out of the game.

St.Clair’s fire was fueled by the Woodland student section early in the game.

“They kind of made me mad. When I got two strikes on me (in the first at-bat), they were like ‘She doesn’t want to swing.’ I was like ‘Well, I’m going to swing hard’ and it went over. I didn’t figure they were going to throw to me, but I’m glad they did so I could hit the ball some more.”

And hit the ball St.Clair did, and then some.

“She’s done a great job of being a great leader all year. She’s very encouraging to everybody in the dugout,” Sand Rock coach Josh Bates said. “I am so proud of her mental state and what she’s done to help lead our team. She’s doing everything she can to extend our season. I’m just so proud of her for being that leader and for what she’s doing.”

It wasn’t easy for the Lady Wildcats.

After St.Clair’s home run put Sand Rock in front 2-0, Woodland fought back by batting around and scoring five runs to take a 5-2 advantage.

The Lady Bobcats added another run in the bottom of the third to take a 6-2 lead before Sand Rock began chipping away.

The Lady Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, another in the fifth and exploded for five in the top of the sixth to take a 10-6 lead.

That four-run cushion wasn’t safe however. Woodland scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it a one-run game, which set the stage for St.Clair’s defensive gems.

“They’re scrappy. They’re a team that’s going to fight,” Bates said of Woodland. “I knew it was going to be a battle. I was just hoping we could come out on top in the end.

“The double play was huge. That got the runners off the bases, and I was just hoping we could get a ground ball somewhere in the middle to get the girl out to end the game. Macy (Martin) did a great job of getting us a ground ball there to end the game. Kaitlyn made a great play, a great throw, and it was a great catch by Kailee (Patterson) to end the game. That was huge.”

Martin came in to relieve Emma Sipsy in the third inning and pitched the rest of the way to earn the win. The eighth grader allowed just two earned runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

“Macy did a phenomenal job coming in. She did a great job shutting them down,” Bates said. “She pitched well for us there and gave us a chance to win. She’s been big for us down the stretch. She’s tough as nails. She’s doing a great job for us in the circle and I’m proud of her. I think our team is rallying around her. They’ve got her back and that’s great to see.”

The Woodland win propels the Lady Wildcats to another elimination game on Thursday against West End of Walnut Grove. Game time was originally scheduled at 9 a.m., but due to thunderstorms in the forecast for the Albertville area, the AHSAA made the decision to bump the time to approximately 10:45 a.m. at Sand Mountain Park.

“I’m proud of our team,” St.Clair said. “A lot of people have overlooked us, but I think this team has something special if we just keep our minds right. I think we can make it to state. I think everybody is starting to realize it.”

Sand Rock’s Macy Martin delivers a pitch against Woodland on Wednesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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