By Thomas Sellers Jr.
High school softball is normally scheduled for seven innings.
And if you have attended a Brighton/Munford contest in recent years, you know to stay the entire game. Back on March 30 the two Tipton County rivals played another classic with the Munford Lady Cougars pulling out a 3-2 win in the seventh inning.
In addition, Brighton Lady Cardinals Head Coach Robin Jacobs said the Munford defeat proved a negative trend for his team. Entering the Munford rematch April 5 at the Munford Softball Field, the Lady Cardinals had a 12-6 record losing five of those games by two or less runs.
“Some of those losses might have helped tonight,” Jacobs said. “But we’ve played a really tough scheduled. They’re a tough team, so that doesn’t phase us playing a hard team. That might have helped us.”
The Lady Cardinals overcame an early 2-0 deficit to take a lead. And Brighton held on to win the rematch with the Lady Cougars 6-5.
“I reckon all of these will be like this,” Jacobs said. “I really can’t remember one that didn’t end like this. If you want your money’s worth, I recommend you come on down and that this game.
“You have to keep hitting and keep your focus,” he continued. “Seeley battled. It wasn’t her best night but she battled and got the win. That’s the biggest thing with them.”
The night started off shaky for Brighton senior ace Seeley Layne. Her senior counterpart Sam Scott of Munford jacked a two-run homer 220 feet over the center field wall to make the score 2-0 in the first inning.
“I just tried to stay positive about it and believe in my teammates about coming back,” Layne recalled. “I knew we could get hits. And Sam is a really good hitter. I figured she would hit the ball. But I believed in my teammates and knew we could come back.”
Brighton’s comeback started in the second inning with Lindsay Kilgore driving in Marisa Moss to make the score 2-1. Scott settled down in the pitching circle for Munford and got out of the inning.
Then the senior UT-Martin signee kept Brighton scoreless in the third inning. Her teammates made several solid defensive plays to hold the Lady Cardinals to 1 run heading into the fourth inning.
Brighton’s hard hits finally started to net some positive results in the fourth frame. Gracie Poirier tied the game at 2-2 with a single.
The next Brighton batter Haley Rider stroked a base hit to score Amanda Perry to put the Lady Cardinals ahead 3-2.
The Lady Cougars’ McKayla Faulk tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with a base hit driving in McKenzie Pugh.
Over the next three innings, the Lady Cardinals regained the advantage with three runs. Two of the runs came in the top of the seventh inning.
“I thought the seventh inning was the difference in the ball game,” Munford Head Coach Glenn Goulder said. “Even though we were down one run going into the seventh, we made a couple of real, real costly errors that cost us a couple of runs. As it turned out, those were really, really valuable runs that cost us the ball game.
“They’re a really good team,” he added. “They’re not ranked No. 1 for no reason. They’re not the defending district champs for no reason.”
Layne entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 6-3 advantage. The insurance runs came in handy as Pugh double drove in a pair of Lady Cougars with two outs.
Layne settled down and recorded the final out to win the game and earn a regular-season District 13-3A spilt with the Lady Cougars.
“If you had told me probably before the season started that we would split with them, I would have been pretty happy,” Goulder said. “But after you win the first one, you’re not too happy splitting after that.”
Layne said the split was good but the better result was seeing her team play a full seven innings.
“I feel like we finally finished the game,” she said. “My teammates backed me up when I was struggling. This was probably one of the worst games I pitched. But my teammates believed in me and kept backing me up. They kept getting hits. They kept picking me up so I could finish the game.
“Last week was a reality check that we needed to learn how to finish the game,” Layne concluded “Finish the game is our main thing. We need to go on from this. We really didn’t worry about that last game. We knew we needed to come in and take care of tonight.”