It didn't seem quite right to call Reatta Cummings an unlikely hero.
“No, I am an unlikely hero,” the Warriors shortstop insisted. “I haven't been hitting much.”
That all changed, though, on Thursday, March 16 at home against Independence.
Cummings hit a two-out, two-run walkoff double, capping a three-run seventh inning that propelled the Warriors to an 8-7 victory over the Falcons in their South Yosemite League opener.
It was a stunning victory and one that gave the Warriors a small measure of revenge against the team that stopped their playoff run in the semifinals last season.
“It gave me a little bit of the wheezies,” Warriors head coach Joan Cooper said afterward, tapping her chest, “but they know what it takes to win and today they won.”
The Warriors trailed 7-5 going into the final inning, Erin Askins walked leading off, and Anabelle Carroll followed with a single. Askins wound up at third, and Carroll went to second on an outfield error on the hit.
Vanessa Swan, who had driven in two runs with an earlier double, laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, scoring Askins. When the throw home got away from the Independence catcher, Carroll also attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate. Swan advanced to second on the play.
That cut the Falcons lead to 7-6, and Ashley McIrvin, who hit a screaming line-drive home run to straightaway center field in the second inning, was walked for the third time.
After a fly ball out, it was Cummings' turn. With her .265 season average and batting eighth in the order, the Independence outfield was shallow.
With the runners moving on contact, Cummings hit a high fly ball toward the gap in deep left-center field.
“All I was thinking was that I had to help the team,” Cummings said.
The ball landed untouched and rolled to the fence with both runners scoring easily for the victory.
“I knew it wasn't going out because I've never hit one out,” Cummings said. “I was just happy to be able to do my job.”
McIrvin's home run and Swan's double in the third had given the Warriors a 3-2 lead.
They extended it to 5-2 in the fifth inning. Carroll doubled, Swan singled and both later scored on a double error by the Falcons.
“When our offense is going, we can be a really good team,” said Swan, one of only three seniors on the roster.
Independence's big bats weren't through yet, though. The Falcons scored four runs in the sixth, then got another in the seventh, setting the stage for the Warriors' seventh-inning heroics.
“We were all cheering each other,” Swan said. “We're a very close team. We win together, and we lose together, and today we won together.”
The Warriors were 10-3 overall after the victory and were scheduled to play next on Tuesday, March 21, at home against East Bakersfield as their SYL campaign continued.
“It's a blessing that we're finally getting some good weather so we can practice,” Cooper said. “You can only do so much in the gym, and we've been able to iron out some kinks.
“There's a huge difference practicing when it's 38 degrees than when it's weather like this.”