Seahawks steal one from Bears|Emotional final game for Bear Grass

Published 6:27 pm Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sports Editor

CHOCOWINITY — Freshman Savannah Mumford didn’t let the big crowd, or important game, faze her in the least. The Southside High School standout pitched a three-hit shutout, while also scoring the game-winning run on a controversial collision at the plate in a 4-0 win over Bear Grass in front of a charged crowd Friday night.
Mumford raced home on Shakeria Lomax’s single into left, just beating the throw from Bear Grass left fielder Kaitlyn Sitterson. Without having the chance to slide, Mumford collided with Bears’ catcher Taylor Hollis at the plate. The umpire ruled Mumford safe, which ignited a three-run inning.
“I just wanted to score,” Mumford said. “I wanted to win.”
The win sends Southside (18-4) into the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state playoffs. The Four Rivers Conference champions will play host to East Carteret (17-4), the Coastal Plains champions who beat Northampton West 12-0 Friday night, in Tuesday’s next round.
Southside coach John Lohman said it’s always beneficial to play at home.
“It’s huge,” Lohman said. “A lot of people, obviously, will come out. It’s nice to have good fan support.”
For Bear Grass (14-9), the No. 2 seed out of the Tideland Conference, it was an emotional loss. Not only was head coach Danny Webb and the fans upset with some of the calls — or lack thereof — made by the umpires, but it was also sadly the final athletic event for Bear Grass High School.
Webb feels his team didn’t get a fair shake in the game.
“This is very tough,” Webb said. “(The home plate umpire) made a terrible call (on the play at the plate in the fifth). That took us out of the ballgame. One run would have decided this game, and he gave them three runs.“Another thing that got me was the (pitching ruling in the fourth). If you’re umpiring in the state playoffs, you should know that pitching rule. We should leave it in the players’ hands to decide who wins the ballgame, and not the umpires.”
Bear Grass and Roanoke are merging into South Creek High School, and will play as the Cougars, next year.
“We have a young team with 11 freshman and sophomores,” Webb said. “Next year or two years from now they could have done great things for Bear Grass High School and the Bear Grass community. But, the Martin County Board of Education took that opportunity away from them.
“I wish I had the option to bring them back to Bear Grass next year. I think we could make the community really proud.”
It’s especially tough on Webb, who saw his children have successful athletic careers and graduate from Bear Grass.
“Next year isn’t going to be the same,” Webb said. “It won’t be the same community school that we have now.
“I’m a big supporter of Bear Grass High School. You look at the fans and see the community support, which Bear Grass always has. I just hate this. This is a sad day.”
Mumford did her best to keep the Bears off the bases. She struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.
The freshman never faced more than four batters in any inning.
Kimberly Mobley (1-3) singled in the second, Sarah Moseley (1-3) singled in the fourth and Lauren Ward (1-2) singled in the fifth. None of the Bear Grass runners got beyond second base.
Despite the loss, Webb was proud of his team.
“I’m very proud of them,” he said. “This being the last year of Bear Grass High School, the girls had a great season.”
Moseley was nearly just as effective for the Bears. She only ran into trouble in the fourth when she walked the bases loaded. After a second visit to the mound in the inning by Webb, the umpires ruled that Bear Grass had to make a pitching change.
However, the umpires rule book actually indicates that a coach is allowed three trips to the mound.
Taylor Johnson came on and got Bear Grass out of the inning, getting a weak ground ball to avoid any damage.
However, the Seahawks used three two-out hits to score three runs in the fifth. Mumford reached on a fielder’s choice. She stole second and then raced home on Lomax’s (1-3, RBI) single into left. Sondra Sparks (1-3, 2B, RBI) followed with an RBI double and Valerie Ruffin (1-2, RBI) followed with a run-scoring single into center.
“We put the bat on the ball and made stuff happen,” Lohman said. “I’ve got good runners that are smart and are going to be aggressive and make plays when they count.”
Mumford was able to relax a bit on the mound after getting the three-run lead. She also had plenty of defensive support, especially from center fielder Bailey Hobbs, who made a number of spectacular plays.
Hobbs robbed Sitterson of a hit in the fifth by racing into right-center and eventually snagging the ball with her bare hand for the out. She also threw out Mobley at third, who had tried to advance after a throwing error.
“Three runs and the defense working is always great,” Mumford said. “Bailey made like three amazing catches. That really helped us win the game. It was a major contribution.”
Southside got an insurance run in the sixth. Hobbs (1-3) beat out an infield hit, stole second and scored on Caitlin Bogart’s (1-3, RBI) single.
Kristen Ayers (1-2) also had a hit for Southside.