Prior to Monday evening, asking North Myrtle Beach about the prospects of another showdown with Georgetown would have been premature.
After the Chiefs dispatched St. James with relative ease, talk of the Bulldogs was front and center.
North Myrtle Beach defeated the Sharks 9-5 at home, completing the season sweep and earning coach James Graves’ squad a potentially all-important tie-breaker over one of the other big three teams in Region VII-AAA. And now, regardless of some other outcomes this week, the regular-season title could very well come down to North Myrtle Beach’s trip to Georgetown on Friday.
“We need to not get cocky because we always struggle with them,” catcher Myatt Hardwick said after her team at least temporarily took over sole possession of first place in the region at 5-1. “I love the intensity that it brings. I really wouldn’t like it if we were out here killing teams or another team was killing everybody. It makes it fun.”
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The Chiefs were certainly feeling better about their chances after beating St. James. In the midst of a five-run second inning, they sent 10 batters to the plate and actually had a run taken off the board when a baserunner was called out for failing to touch third base.
Even though St. James (9-8 overall, 4-2 region) seemingly settled down for the next three innings and even scored four runs in the seventh, it never really appeared that the game was in doubt after the Chiefs’ huge second inning.
“It’s disappointing. It’s always frustrating against these guys,” St. James coach Adam Jones said. “Against North Myrtle, we always kick ourselves in the butt. We shoot ourselves in the foot. On the big stage, we get small.”
That was a bigger concern for Jones, whose team has an immediate chance to redeem itself with its own trip to Georgetown (4-1 in region) on Tuesday. Win there, and the Sharks would then own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Bulldogs should it be required following the completion of region play next week.
As Hardwick pointed out, though, nothing much have been a given this year. St. James has already defeated the Bulldogs once, and Georgetown got the upper hand in the first matchup against North Myrtle Beach.
Regardless, Monday’s win was a great start to the week for Graves and his team.
“We’re feeling, I guess, as good as we can right now,” Graves said. “… We’re at Georgetown on Friday, and that may decide the region championship. If they win, they deserve it. If we win, we deserve it.”
▪ W - Serrah Ballard. L - Shelby Spaziani. Top hitters - St. James: Kelsi Bachmann 2-3, HBP, 2 Runs, SB; Ali Valcourt 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Alysa Ayala 2-3, HBP, RBI, Run. North Myrtle Beach: Regan Urbaniak 3-4, 2B, RBI, 3 Runs; Myatt Hardwick 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Andie Crimminger 2-3, Run.
▪ Records: St. James 9-8, 4-2 Region VII-AAA; North Myrtle Beach 11-10, 5-1.