Clinging to a one-run lead over Dale in the bottom of the seventh, Wayne coach Scott Brewer still was confident his sophomore pitcher, Michal Hylton, would find a way to escape the bases loaded, nobody out jam.
“I told my assistant, ‘She will get us out of this,' just knowing her mentality,” Brewer said. “She is a heck of a competitor.”
Hylton proved her coach right, getting a force out at home on a ground ball then striking out the final two batters as Wayne upset Dale, 5-4, Thursday in the opening round of the Class 2A fastpitch softball tournament at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Wayne's Caleigh Clifton, who has committed to Oklahoma, singled twice and scored two runs for the Bulldogs.
Hylton fanned 16 Dale hitters in the game, two short of her season high of 18, while allowing just two hits. Her strikeout pitch was her screwball.
“I trust my screwball,” she said. “It breaks outside to a right-handed hitter. It's hard to hit an outside pitch. If they do hit it, they are hitting it off the end of the bat.”
No. 2 Dale (32-4) had trouble hitting Hylton all day, but almost rallied to win when the left-hander became wild.
Hylton was cruising with a 4-0 lead after three innings, fanning eight batters already, including six in a row.
In the fifth inning, Dale scored three times when Hylton walked two batters and hit another. A dropped fly ball with two outs allowed three unearned runs to cross home plate.
Wayne led only 4-3 after five innings even though Dale did not have a hit in the game.
In the sixth, Eden Powell's RBI single scored Bailey Boles with what proved to be the game-winning run for No. 9 Wayne (29-8).
The Lady Pirates cut the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of the frame when Sam Barry, who reached on a walk, scored on Taylor Anderson's RBI double, the first hit of the game for Dale.
That set the stage for the pressure-packed ninth inning when Dale loaded the bases with no one out on a hit batsman, an attempted sacrifice bunt that became an infield hit, and another sacrifice bunt that was scored a fielder's choice when the runner was safe at third.
Dale was poised to steal the win from Wayne, but Hylton didn't let it happen.
“Everything in my mind was, this was my game,” Hylton said. “I have wanted to be here since I was a little girl.
“I thought to myself, this is your time, make these outs. I got them when they counted.”