UNION COUNTY — The Lady Yellow Jackets are champions again! The Union County High School Softball Team claimed their fourth state title in five years when they defeated Hartsville on Tuesday night, at Lancaster High School, in a decisive Game Three in the best of three state title series. The title is the second consecutive title for Union County since moving to class 4A from 3A two years ago.
Union County struck first in the game when in the bottom of the second inning Abbie Valentine led off the inning with a single to right field and advanced to second when the ball was misplayed by the right fielder. Courtney Seymore would use an out to advance the pinch runner, Ashanti Young, over to third with just one out. The next Lady Yellow Jacket batter, Kristen Kicidis, hit a fly ball to center field that was caught but was just deep enough to allow Young to tag at third and come in to score after a violent collision with the Hartsville catcher, who was standing in the path of the runner awaiting the throw from center. The Lady Red Foxes would answer with a run of their own in the top of the third inning when Myra McDonald would single with two outs, steal second, and then score on a single by Taylor Watford.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the fourth inning when Abbie Valentine hit a solo home run to left field to give the Jackets the 2-1 lead. Hartsville would get two base runners on in the top of the fifth, but Betenbaugh was able to pitch out of the potential crisis, retiring the side before the Lady Red Foxes could push across a run.
Union County would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Betenbaugh would get her first hit of the game, a solo home run to center field that was absolutely crushed. The two-run Lady Jacket lead would prove to be enough as Betenbaugh and the Lady Jackets were able to retire the side in the seventh to claim the title.
For Union County, Valentine had two hits, a single and a home run; Betenbaugh had one hit (HR); Rebecca Lee had a double; Kicidis and Seymore each had a hit in the contest. Valentine, Betenbaugh, and Kicidis all drove in runs for the Lady Jackets in the win.
Betenbaugh was once again superb in the pitchers circle for the Lady Jackets, going seven innings, giving up just five hits, striking out ten and allowing only one earned run. Betenbaugh also pitched out of a jam in the second inning when a Hartsville runner reached third base with no outs in the inning but was left stranded there after Betenbaugh struck out the next two batters and then induced a weak ground ball to first to retire the side.
As things stand right now the fifth consecutive meeting between Hartsville and Union County for the softball state championship may be the last. Union County is scheduled to move down to Class 3A next school year and Hartsville will stay in Class 4A. A really good rivalry has formed over the last five years with these two schools, it will be sad to see this run end. Could these two teams meet for a possible regular season match-up? It would be fun.
The team will be recognized by Congressman Ralph Norman on Tuesday, May 29 at 9 a.m. at the Union County Career and Technology Center. Norman will present the team with a Congressional Certificate in honor of them winning the State Championship.
Tyler Shugart is the host of “Bump and Run” from 7-9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM in Spartanburg. He can be reached at [email protected]