Katie Shealy’s two-out, run scoring single gave Wewa a dramatic come-from-behind, 3-2 walk-off win against 4A Wakulla on Thursday night, April 21.
Held to only two hits and a walk through six innings by War Eagle freshman hurler Charley Butler, the Gators started their seventh inning heroics when senior Morgan Mayhann led off with a walk.
Normally the battery mate for senior pitcher Haley Guffey, Mayhann had been relegated to a designated player role due to a slight injury to her throwing arm, replaced behind the plate by seventh grader Eden Rustin.
Coming in as Mayhann’s courtesy runner, Rustin promptly took second base on a passed ball, and scampered home on sophomore Ashley Thompson’s base hit to right field. On a bang-bang play, Rustin eluded the catcher’s tag and slid home with the first Wewa run to close the gap to 2-1.
“We’re getting to the point in the season where we’re having to see a lot of the young girls stepping up,” said Gator coach Justin Smith. “And Eden did just that last night. She came in when Morgan needed her, and that’s what being a team player is all about.”
Taking second on the throw home, Thompson later stole third base where she stood as freshman Laiken Ferrell stepped into the batter’s box with only one out.
Ferrell drilled Butler’s first offering to the center field fence for a double, and Thompson strolled home with the tying run as the Wewa faithful and Gator dugout erupted.
“I just knew that I had to do a job and get something done,” said the Gator first baseman, who had saved a run in the second inning with a nifty scoop of a short hop throw. “I was thinking that I’ve got to get this runner home.”
After taking third on a wild pitch, Ferrell watched as teammate Hope Thompson worked her way on with a two-out walk, allowing Shealy to come to bat. The senior shortstop did not disappoint, as she drove a short fly ball into left field to bring home Ferrell with the winning run.
“Katie’s a good leader, and she likes to bring everybody up. Whenever we’re down, she’s always talking us up and telling us how to get things done,” said Ferrell.
“Honestly, (the pressure) doesn’t phase me,” said Shealy, who collected two hits on the night. “I’ve been playing this game for six years, I’ve been on a high-stress team, and when you’ve got to get a job done there are no excuses. To be up there in that situation, it’s my bread-and-butter. I really enjoy it, and I feel like I thrive in it.”
Guffey kept the Gators in contention with her 13 strikeouts, allowing only five Wakulla hits. “I’m just really proud of (my teammates),” she said. “They pick me up. I struggle with starting out the game, (but) I finish strong almost every game.”
Wakulla, now 10-8, presented a threat in the second inning by putting runners at second and third, but got on the board with a run in the third on a base hit by junior Riley Davis and a double by senior Brooklyn O’Neal.
They added a second run in the sixth inning on a walk, stolen base, sacrifice bunt, and a passed ball. Guffey ended the inning with two strikeouts, and set down the War Eagles in order on strikeouts in the seventh inning to give the Gators a chance to rally.
Wewa, now 15-4, will face Pace at Gulf Coast State College on Saturday, and will end the regular season with home games against Arnold on Tuesday, April 26, and Chiles on Thursday, April 28.