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Rallying Rebels clinch 2-AAAAAA softball title
Rebels left fielder Ashley Wilson stretches for a foul ball in the fourth inning of Thursday's opener against Richmond Hill. She hurt her knee on the play but remained in the game and delivered the winning hit. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD -- Effingham County had to dig deep to get to the top of Region 2-AAAAAA heap on Thursday.

The Rebels swept Richmond Hill in the best-of-three championship set 5-4 and 9-7 by overcoming a string of close calls that went against them. Oh, yeah. and they had to come from behind in both games.

"These girls don't  ever quit," Effingham County coach Johnny Coleman said. "We talk to them everyday about competing on every pitch no matter what happens. That's what they did.

"We could have easily rolled over but they kept fighting."

In the opener, the Rebels rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the sixth inning. Taylor Morgan drove in the tying run with a one-out triple and Ashley Morgan plated what proved to be the game winner with a two-single to center field.

Wilson was also pivotal in the Wildcats' final at-bat. They had runners at second and third with no outs when she caught a sinking liner in left field and fired a strike to third base to double up the runner.

"Ashley played a great game," Coleman said. "We worried earlier because she tried a catch a foul ball near the left-field line near the tarp and we thought she hyperextended her knee. We don't have a whole lot of outfielders as it is, so we sure can't afford to have one who runs like that get hurt."

In the night cap. the Rebels trailed 4-3 in the fifth inning when Taylor Morgan blasted a towering solo homer that left the field near the scoreboard in right field.

Richmond Hill went back in front in their fifth at-bat -- they were designated the home team in Game 2 -- but Addie Reynolds reclaimed the lead for Effingham County with a two-RBI double to left field.

The Rebels scored thrice in the final frame, getting run-producing hits from Bailee Wilson and Hayley Dickerson, and a sacrifice fly by Haley Arnsdorff.

The Wildcats scored a couple of runs in their last at-bat but pitcher Bailee Wilson held on for the win.

Coleman ddeflected credit for his team winning the region crown in his first season on the job.

"It's easy when you've got these kids," he said with a chuckle.

Effingham County awaits a Region 1-AAAAAA team in the opening round of the playoffs next week.

See the Oct. 11 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.