Thomas Heyward Academy softball coach Bob Layman knew what he was doing when he sprinkled three games against Region 7-AAA power Bluffton High School late in the regular season.
He wanted his team to be tested before the playoffs.
And on Monday, the Rebels passed the test.
After squandering a five-run lead, Thomas Heyward rallied for two runs in the seventh inning, as Jamie Malphrus drove in the go-ahead run and the Rebels held on for an 8-7 road victory to even the season series with the Bobcats at a game apiece.
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"I'm going to have to start taking more blood pressure medicine, I swear," Layman said.
His heart was pounding, no doubt, after Bluffton rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead. The Bobcats took control with a five-run fifth inning, during which Melissa Peebles' three-run double off the wall was the key hit.
Each team added a run in the sixth, leaving the Bobcats' lead at 7-6 and setting the stage for Thomas Heyward's rally.
Andrea Daring led off the seventh with a walk, moved to second on Taylor Ernestine's sacrifice bunt and scored on Kayla Canavan's single. Chandler Cook followed with a single to move Canavan into scoring positing, and Malphrus lined a single up the middle to score the go-ahead run with her second RBI of the game.
Rebels pitcher Ashlie Layman then retired the side in order in the seventh to preserve the win.
"It was an outstanding ball game," Bob Layman said. "We kept coming back, and so did they. It shows a lot of character in both teams."
And they'll do it again tonight at Thomas Heyward, with the winner taking the three-game season series -- and a good bit of momentum going into the postseason.
"That's why we schedule these three games this late in the season," Bob Layman said. "Both (Bluffton) coach (Bill) Ball and I know both teams are quality teams, and that's what we're going to see in the playoffs."
The Bobcats will open the Class 3-A playoffs Thursday at home, while the Rebels must wait until May 13 for the SCISAA Class 2-A state tournament to begin.
Ashlie Layman earned the win, allowing seven runs on eight hits and striking out eight in a complete game. She also had two RBIs.
Courtney Smith took the loss, going the distance and giving up eight runs on 10 hits and striking out 10.