With two on and the Bluffton softball team clinging to a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning Friday night, senior standout Courtney Smith knew exactly what to look for.
"I picked up a changeup, and I expected it, because she had thrown the same thing to me," Smith said. "I said I could drive it."
So she did, roping a single to drive in first baseman Lilli Otten and give the Bobcats some breathing room. At the end of the night, it was Bluffton (15-3, 7-1) that took control of Region 8-AAAA play, vaulting into first place with a 4-1 win over the Summerville Green Wave on Friday night.
Bluffton's softball field was packed with fans from both sides, making noise throughout what was a tense pitcher's duel until the Bobcats' fifth-inning breakthrough. Smith crafted a masterwork of a performance, executing head coach Bill Ball's gameplan nearly to perfection. Her offspeed pitches did most of the work, painting the outside corner and contributing to her seven strikeouts.
"We knew we had to mix offspeed, because they're looking for the hard one," Smith said. "We figured we'd throw them off a little bit."
The Bobcats handed the top-ranked Green Wave their second loss in a week -- Beaufort High beat them Wednesday -- and atoned for a heartbreaking 6-5 loss at Summerville on March 31. Ball said his team stayed tough in a tight game.
"You didn't see us break down at any point in time," Ball said. "They stayed focused on the offensive end as the lineup kept rolling around. It doesn't matter where we're at, the kids are just looking to execute."
Senior center fielder Morganne Parker and her sister, freshman shortstop Jordyn Parker, combined for five hits and two runs to pace the Bobcats' attack. Otten, senior second baseman Amanda Dart and senior third baseman Kim Kerby added RBIs for Bluffton.
Ball's team also put together a stellar defensive effort, though their aggressive decision-making didn't always pay off. Twice, Bluffton players attempted and failed to get the lead runner, and Summerville took advantage, scoring a run in the sixth without a hit. It wasn't enough to overcome Smith's stellar effort in the circle.