WALES — It wasn’t just the victory. It was the rally and the team that it came against that explained why Winthrop softball coach Chuck Gurney wasn’t about to mince words after his team’s game against Oak Hill Tuesday.

“This is, in my three years here at Winthrop, probably the biggest win this program has ever had,” he said.

High praise, but considering the way the Ramblers sidestepped defeat, perhaps the conclusion was warranted. Winthrop scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally from a 1-0 deficit, breaking a 1-1 tie when Amber Raymond tripled in a run and scored herself on an error, en route to a 3-1 victory over the Class B Raiders at Oak Hill High School.

“This is a (6-3) Class B team that’s one of the premier teams,” said Gurney, whose Ramblers (6-4) played as the home team despite the game being moved to Wales. “We lost to Lisbon the opening day by one, and then we lost to Monmouth by one in extra innings, and this entire game, it was 1-0, 1-0, 1-0 straight through. I’m thinking, we’ve got to bust through one of these games and win one.”

Winthrop was never outside of striking range, but a rally seemed like a longshot with outs dwindling against Raiders pitcher Sadie Waterman (five strikeouts), who had allowed only one hit through five innings. Oak Hill missed chances to cash in for backbreaking runs, however, and as Winthrop got out of jam after jam, Gurney had the feeling that it was all going to pay off.

“For us, I felt if we could keep it close, sooner or later we’d break through,” he said.

In the sixth, Winthrop got its chance. Kate Perkins reached on an infield single, moved up on Moriah Hajduk’s bunt and advanced to third on a wild pitch, and after Kayliegh Oberg walked, Layne Audet flew to right to score Perkins with the tying run.

That brought up Raymond, who drilled Waterman’s first pitch over the right fielder’s head. Oberg scored easily from third, and after the cutoff throw was wild, Raymond kicked into a sprint again for home after slowing down at third base.

“I was just thinking about bringing (Oberg) in and making it to first, and then everybody was like ‘Go, go, go, go!’ ” she said.

Raymond beat the throw home, but then drama turned to chaos. Thinking she had missed the plate, Oak Hill coaches and players started hollering, and catcher Emma Hlister frantically tried to get the ball back from Waterman. Raymond, meanwhile, had almost returned to the dugout when her teammates and coaches started yelling at her to get back and touch the plate. Hlister’s tag was in time, but the home plate umpire called Raymond safe, saying that she had tagged the plate even before all the commotion unfolded.

“I didn’t even see it because I was busy celebrating at third base instead of watching,” Gurney said. “We actually spoke to her after the game, and told her next time we’ll hand her a GPS on her way around third base.”

Oak Hill took the lead in the second inning when Mahala Smith tripled to deep left and came home on Hlister’s bunt single. The Raiders had more chances to crack open the game but saw rally after rally fall one hit short, stranding two in both the second and fifth innings and seven runners altogether.

“It’s kind of been our story throughout the season,” said coach Allyson Collins, whose team got two hits apiece from Hlister and Julia Ahlberg (double) and a double from Waterman. “We’ve just left way too many runners on base. We hit the ball extremely well, but in key situations, we’re just not coming up with that big hit that we need. … It’s been kind of a season-long thing during tight games.”

Part of the reason for the Raiders’ struggles was Audet, who buckled down with runners on base and kept her team within range for the comeback.

“When they get on base, it kind of gives me an incentive. I can’t let them get home,” said Audet, who allowed seven hits while striking out four. “I get pretty nervous in those situations, but I try to keep it together.

“They’re Class B, and it’s really exciting to beat a team like that, because we know that they’re really good.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM