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Comets earn extra inning 5-1 victory

Halifax County High School outfielder Kye-Neisha Logan was simply trying to make contact when batting in the ninth inning of the 5A North Region Tournament quarterfinal game at George C. Marshall High School on Monday.

Logan eventually made plenty of contact, sending a 3-2 offering from Marshall pitcher Madison Larsen high over the left field fence for a 3-run homer capping a signature 5-1 win in nine innings over the Statesmen.

Halifax County travels to Briar Woods High School today for a 6 p.m. game, with a win landing them a spot in the Division 5 state tournament.

“I don’t even know how many pitches I fouled off, said Logan, who admitted she wasn’t looking for anything in particular from Larson.

“It looked like it was inside, and inside pitches you go with the pitch.

“I just tried to make contact.  It feels amazing.  I have no words on how happy I am right now.”

Playing with confidence and poise on the road in a do-or-die pressure situation, the Comets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning after a walk to Taylor Barnes.

Barnes advanced to second on an Ashley Watts groundout and stole third base on a passed ball, scoring on the overthrow to third.

Marshall tied the score in the bottom of the fourth on a one-out double by Lindsay Charters and a two-out RBI single by Celestina Dunavant.

A four-run rally in the top of the ninth gave the Comets the win, with Barnes reaching base on an error and advancing to second before scoring on a Marshall error on a sharply hit grounder by Watts.

Cecilie Elliott singled to put two runners aboard, and a Gabby Spainhour groundout put runners at second and third before Logan’s blast made it 5-1.

Barnes, who allowed one run on five hits in nine innings, struck out seven batters, including two of three she faced in the bottom of the ninth.

The Comets finished with three hits for the game, including Logan’s homer and singles by Barnes and Spainhour.

Halifax committed only one error for the game compared to four for George C. Marshall, including three in the pivotal ninth inning. 

“I was on today, my drop curve was good and I stayed really strong, and my teammates backed me up the whole time,” said Barnes.

“They were a good hitting team, and I tried to throw my best,” added Barnes, who picked it up a notch after the seventh innings.

“I really want to win when I go into extra innings.”

George C. Marshall, a team that recently hung its first softball conference championship banner since 1976, played on even terms with the Comets, according to Coach Missy Whittington.

“I’m so proud of my girls, they came to play,” said Whittington.

Halifax came in here and were very aggressive at the plate and made her team get the outs, she added.

“It all comes down to who can stand it the longest,” said Whittington.

“My hat’s off to Halifax, they were really swinging the bats, and on full counts they were still swinging.

“I felt like we had the momentum, but we just needed a few more innings.”

Comets Coach Melanie Saunders said her team handled the pressure of being on the road a long ways from home and playing a solid team.

“Their pitcher kept us off balance a little bit and moved the ball, but our girls weren’t striking out a lot and hitting the ball,” Saunders explained.

“The difference today was when we got runners on in that one inning, we scored with less than two outs, and that’s when you can manufacture runs.”

Logan’s homer came at just the right time, according to Saunders.

“Kye-Neisha’s been struggling a little bit at the plate, but we told her we have confidence in her.  I tell you what, that was awesome.”

The Comets’ battery of Barnes and Watts did a good job keeping Marshall hitters off balance, and the defense backed them up, including getting out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning.

“The kids stayed up the entire game,” noted Saunders.

“It would be very easy on the road to give up, but they didn’t let the pressure get to them.”

Saunders does not plan anything different for Briar Woods.

“All season we’ve gone one game at a time, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” she said.

“We had a lot of doubters all this year, and we’ve just been swinging away and just trying to make the plays and make it happen and improve. 

“We’ll work hard and hope things go our way on Wednesday.”