Jeff Hurndon Photography
Freshman Lyndsey Gilliam had two hits for Union Grove — singles in the second and third innings, when the Wolverines scored a total of five runs.
Usually, when the better fast-pitch softball teams play each other, the result is a low-scoring game.
Form held half-true Tuesday at Union Grove.
In a tug of war between No. 1-ranked Jones County’s 15-game winning streak and No. 2 Union Grove’s 11 in a row, less proved more. The Wolverines dominated Jones County in a game so lopsided it had to be cut short by the mercy rule.
Eager to avenge last year’s sweep at the hands of the eventual Class AAAA champion, Union Grove got a two-run homer from Megan Betsa and cruised to a 9-1, five-inning rout of the Greyhounds, running their winning streak to an even dozen.
Vanessa Buitrago, who seemed to be in the middle of every significant rally, and Jordan Corbin each had two hits and each scored two runs. Lyndsey Gilliam also had two hits for Union Grove.
The Wolverines (14-2, 6-0 in Region 3-AAAA, Division A) scored three runs in the second inning, aided by one of six Jones County walks and one of the Greyhounds’ four errors.
Buitrago got the walk and was sacrificed to second by Jacqueline Tanner. Allison Waters reached on an error. Gilliam and Katie Spinks each followed with singles, Beth Burton with a sacrifice fly and Jordan Corbin another single. Betsa lined out to right, but the momentum was hardly dissipated.
The Wolverines picked up where they left off in the third, with Buitrago in the thick of things. She had a one-out single to get the rally started. Tanner and Waters walked and Gilliam singled again. Spinks reached on an error that allowed Tanner to score.
Just like that, it was 5-0.
“Usually, if we get three or more runs, it’s going to be hard on a team to come back on Megan,” Pipkin said. “As soon as we got five runs by the third inning ... ”
Victory was all but certain. Though it might have seemed a sure thing, the Wolverines didn’t let up.
The Greyhounds (15-2, 4-1) got their lone run in the fourth inning. Kylie Bass tripled and Morgan Jackson belted a sacrifice fly to left. Betsa came right back to strike out the next two batters — two of the eight she fanned while allowing only two hits.
Thoughts of a Greyhounds rally were extinguished on the spot.
And then, for good measure, Betsa homered in the bottom of the inning to make it 7-1.
Fittingly, on both counts, the game ended with Buitrago’s at-bat that resulted in a run-scoring fielding error.
“We were very focused,” Pipkin said. “They know to win state you’ve got to win region games. They beat us two times last year and we only scored one run against them.”
There won’t be much time for Union Grove to bask in the afterglow. The Wolverines have another subregion game tonight against Griffin.
“(Tonight) is just as important as the Jones County game,” Pipkin said. “If we lose (tonight), we lose the momentum.”
They can rest after that.
“We’re looking forward to some time off,” Pipkin said. “Seventeen games in a month. That’s a lot.”