DUNCAN -- Byrnes is one step closer to making its dream come true.
The Rebels held off Bluffton 3-2 to take Game 1 of the 4A state championship softball series on Monday night.
Byrnes (25-4) will next travel to Bluffton (27-4) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday with an opportunity to clinch its first title in nine years. Bluffton, meanwhile, will be looking to extend the series to a third game on Friday at a neutral site.
Bailey Pearson struck out 11 Bobcats, including the final out with the tying run at third base, to lead the way. The senior retired the side in the first inning and had at least one strikeout in six of seven innings.
"I was striking them out, but I didn't know it was that many," Pearson said. "I warmed up great and then came into the game throwing hard."
"I didn't realize she had 11, but Bailey threw really well," Byrnes coach Brandi Aiken said. "She seemed to really have their number there at the beginning."
Pearson was as solid at the plate as she was on the mound. She finished 2 for 3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the third to help give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Malibu Gaston then followed with a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0 going into the fourth.
"I just get up there ready to hit because I know that my season is coming to an end soon," Pearson said. "I'm making the most out of it that I can."
Bluffton came back to cut the deficit in half as Morganne Parker smacked an RBI single in the fifth. The hit advanced Amber Klitzsch to third, who then tried to catch the Rebels napping by immediately trying to steal home.
Pearson fired a strike to Gaston, who was able to get the tag down for the out.
Gaston picked up her second RBI on a base hit in the fifth, but the Bobcats came back with one in the sixth to make it 3-2 on back-to-back, two-out doubles from Kim Kerby and Lilli Otten. But Otten was stranded at second following a fly out to right field.
The Rebels carried the same lead into the seventh, easily recording the first out on a grounder before committing a three-base error to put the tying run 90 feet away. Pearson came back to get a pop up to second before the strikeout ended the game.
"I was kind of scared after that little thing that happened (with the error)," Pearson said. "After that, to get the strikeout was the greatest feeling."
"I'm glad to get a win," Aiken said. "I thought we hit the ball solid the whole day. I would have felt better had we executed the bunt a little bit better and not made the errors there that were in my mind could have been very costly. I'm happy to get away with the win. We'll have to play better on Wednesday."