AUBREY — At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, when the scheduled first pitch in Aubrey and Sanger’s game was supposed to occur, Aubrey’s softball field was vacant.
Instead, Aubrey’s team was at the funeral of classmate Ryan White, who died Friday afternoon in a car accident. Two hours later, the softball team and the baseball team from both schools respectively walked onto each field to play a game.
Kaley Reding hit a walk-off single to lift Aubrey to a 3-2 victory over Sanger on Tuesday night. With the result, Sanger (19-5-1, 5-2 District 9-3A) loses its share of the district lead and is tied with Aubrey (20-4, 5-2) for second place. Both teams trail Pilot Point for first place.
Aubrey head coach Shon Ranton earned his 400th career victory. After the game, he posed for pictures with a homemade banner signifying the victory.
Instead of basking in the accomplishment, Ranton credited kids, parents — basically anybody else but himself.
“It meant so much to me that I had forgot about it until they said something,” Ranton said of the accomplishment.
After Kayla Sullivan’s leadoff triple in the seventh inning, Reding’s single landed in between three Sanger players near the third-base foul line. The ball harmlessly dropped safely and squirmed in the grass as Sullivan crossed home plate for the winning run.
Reding (18-4) struck out five batters and picked up the victory, while Sanger’s Mikayla Stogsdill was charged with the loss.
Tributes for White abounded throughout the baseball and softball diamonds. In the parking lot, white ribbons were tied to streetlights. In Reding’s hair was a big white bow. Reding scribbled the initials “RW” behind her in the pitching circle and on the athletic tape on her left wrist.
Aubrey’s baseball team traded in their traditional blue home jerseys for homemade white shirts bearing a blue cross with wings and the letters “R” and “W” on either side of the cross. Aubrey lost to Sanger 6-4.
Reding said the softball team played Tuesday’s game in White’s honor.
“It made it a whole lot easier to play for him than think about it the whole time,” Reding said.
The start time for the softball game was pushed back two hours because of White’s funeral
Prior to the start of the baseball and softball games at 7:30 p.m., a man came on the public address system at the baseball field and asked everybody in both stands for a moment of silence.
The area fell silent, except for the birds chirping in the distance.
The Lady Chaparrals struck first in the bottom of the fourth inning when Marissa Perkins slapped a hard ball off the first-base bag. Logan Even, who led the inning with a leadoff double into the left- center field gap, scored off the fortunate hop and put Aubrey up 1-0.
Reding started the fifth inning by walking Meghan Eilers before Sanger picked up two bunt singles and loaded the bases with only one out.
With two outs in the inning and on a 1-1 count, it looked as if the Lady Indians plated a run when Erica Bjorndal’s pop-up appeared to land directly on the foul-line chalk around the third-base bag.
However, neither of the two umpires got a good look at the play. A Sanger runner and Aubrey third baseman Nikki Brogdon converged on the base as the ball plummeted into the dirt. The home-plate umpire finally ruled it a foul ball, extending the at-bat.
Reding regained her composure to strike out Bjorndal with the bases loaded. Ranton jumped off his over-turned bucket by the dugout and emphatically pumped his fist.
Aubrey scored again in the bottom of the fifth, but the lead proved to be temporary. Sanger’s Tessa Frazier and Courtney Ford each singled in a run in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game 2-2.
But at the end of the game, Sanger failed to come up with the timely hits it needed for the win.
“We didn’t hit,” Sanger head coach Jae McMinn said. “We didn’t hit. We left too many runners in scoring position.”
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AUBREY 3, SANGER 2
WP – Kaley Reding (18-4). LP – Mikayla Stogsdill. 2B – A: Kaley Reding, Logan Evan, Haley Bottorff. 3B – A: Kayla Sullivan.