BUFFALO, W.Va. - Sherman's best quality was on display Thursday evening.
The Tide clawed and scratched its way to a 7-6 victory over Man in the opening game of pool play in the Class A division of the 15th annual Best of the Best Softball Classic at the Buffalo Softball Complex. Sherman carried over that momentum into its second game and shut out Wahama 10-0 in three innings behind Kylie Wells' one-hit shutout.
"We pulled it together,'' beamed Sherman senior pitcher Tori May about the come-from-behind win over Man. "We have a habit of getting down. If [the opponent starts] scoring we just stop.
"We fought and we've been doing better about that. We're going to play as hard as we can. We [used to] just get down on ourselves and stop playing [when our opponent would take the lead]. We would lie down and let the other team beat us. Not anymore. We're fighting now.''
After falling behind 4-0 after a first inning that saw two errors, Sherman's Taylor Hendricks cranked a one-out, two-run home run to left field in the second inning as the Tide seized the momentum and sliced its deficit in half to 4-2.
Hendricks' shot gave the Tide the confidence it would need as Sherman scored five runs in the third to take the lead for good at 7-4. Sherman capitalized on Man's two errors in the frame, which led to a pair of runs, and the Tide's Jordan Lewis added the final blow with a two-out, two-run single.
It still wasn't easy for Sherman, which had to hold on in a wild bottom of the seventh for the victory. After the Hillbillies' Kelly Grimmett popped out to first base, the intensity was ratcheted up a few notches when teammates Summer Sword and Cari Blair followed with back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second.
Madison Ketter followed with a run-scoring single as Man closed to 7-5. May then compounded the situation by hitting the Hillbillies' Tabitha Ferguson with the first pitch to load the bases.
May, though, forced Man's Taylor Tomblin to pop out to second, but Emilee Osborne coaxed a walk to force in a run as the Hillbillies pulled within 7-6 with two outs. May, who has been battling back issues, bore down and struck out Man's Mikayla Gibson on three pitches to end the game.
Sherman has been quietly putting together one of its best seasons, which so far has produced an 12-4 record and a No. 4 ranking in this week's state sports writers' poll.
The Tide defeated Man, a perennial state-tournament contender, for the second time this season by one run. If all goes well, the Tide would meet Man (8-3), which received votes in this week's poll, again in the postseason in a few weeks.