LANCASTER, S.C. – Hartsville and Union County have played in the past five consecutive state softball championships. There will not be a sixth.
The Yellowjackets are stepping down next year to Class 3A.
As for this year's final game of the Class 4A finals, Union County won 3-1 on an outstanding pitching performance by junior Bailey Bentenbaugh, who struck out 10 batters in seven innings of work.
Union County opened the scoring with a run in the second inning when UC’s Abbie Valentine collided with Hartsville’s Jessica McWhorter at the plate. It was a tense situation and McWhorter left the game.
Brittney Cothran came on in substitution of McWhorter.
Hartsville tied the game in the top of the third when Myra McDonald collided with UC’s second baseman at first base covering the bag. McDonald stayed in the game and promptly stole second on the first pitch to Taylor Watford, which brought a roar from the Hartsville crowd.
Watford singled, scoring McDonald.
Union then put the game away with two home runs: One off of starting pitcher Watford in the fourth and the other off of Liz Stroud in the sixth.
Hartsville threatened in the fourth and fifth innings, eventually stranding three runners. The Red Foxes stranded six for the game.
“We didn’t get timely hits had some opportunities to score early,” Hartsville coach Tommy Garrison said. “We should have scored one run early and a couple more later in the game.”
Garrison also had his thoughts about that collison at home.
“That’s just part of the game," he said. "They were going at it pretty hard on both sides of the ball.”
Garrison also praised the play of Cothran coming off the bench to play catcher.
“I think she did an excellent job back there. I don’t think she had a passed ball at all,” he said. “She caught the pitchers all year warming up and all. She was able to slide in, and we didn’t miss a beat.”