Whitley Weathers hasn’t had to face many deficits this season, but when she fell in an early hole Monday, the senior ace delivered to move her team a win from the state’s final four.
The Francis Marion recruit went the distance on the mound, and Sydney Howard shined at the plate to defeat visiting South Florence 5-3 and advance to the SCHSL Class 4A District 3 championship game.
The visiting Bruins got to Weathers right away in the first inning, scoring a pair of runs on three hits to grab an early 2-0 advantage. Colleton County quickly got one back in the bottom half, as Howard sizzled a clutch two-out double to score Shandi Brown and put her team on the board.
South Florence tacked on another in the third on a ground-ball single from Katie Catoe, but the Cougars came up with two in the home half to even the game at 3. After a popout began the inning, Brown drew a six-pitch walk and stole second base before Bailey Cox drove her home on a hard ground ball to center field. Then Howard came through again, lining an 0-2 pitch into right to score Cox and tie the ballgame.
The Cougars snatched the lead in the fifth inning, as Brown darted home on a double steal before Weathers drilled a ground ball through the infield to tack on another and take a 5-3 advantage. South Florence started a two-out rally in the sixth with runners on first and second, but a lineout kept the Colleton County lead intact.
There was little drama in the seventh and final inning, as Weathers retired all three Cougars in order to seal the playoff victory. The senior pitcher put together another stellar showing, going all seven innings and giving up just three earned runs while going 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Howard came up huge from the cleanup spot, going 3-for-3 with a double and driving in two runs. Cox was 2-for-2 at the dish with an RBI, and Brown added a hit plus a walk while scoring three times.
Colleton County (17-0) looks to wrap up the district championship at home Friday against the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between Midland Valley and South Florence. The Cougars will need to win one of two to advance to the Lower State championship series.
By Wes Kerr