FLORENCE, S.C. – Barbara Taylor can now call herself a world championship horseshoe pitcher.
Taylor, a resident of York, defeated six-time reigning women’s senior division world champion Sheila Shepard in a playoff to claim the title Friday morning at the Florence Center. Taylor is a 13-time state champion but never had been in contention for the world championship until this year.
“Oh, my Lord,” Taylor said. “I can’t tell you how it feels, because I am so happy. I never won anything.”
At one point in the playoff, the score was 28-10 Shepard. As Shepard advanced toward the ending score of 40, Taylor slowly made her way through the teens and into the 20s. On around the 72nd shoe, Shepard scored her 39th point, putting her one point away from the win and her seventh consecutive world championship.
As horseshoes is like cornhole where the scores cancel each other out, Taylor knew her opportunities were limited.
“I was ready to settle for second place,” Taylor said. “I thought just one more pitch. Just one shoe at a time. That’s what everybody tells me: just one shoe at a time. I thought, ‘Just let me have another pitch.’”
She knew she had to score as much as Shepard to prevent Shepard from scoring the one point she needed. Then, Taylor started throwing the horseshoes around the poles to score ringers. The score moved from 39-23 to 39-24 and eventually became 39-37 Shepard.
Then, Taylor threw two ringers, meaning that Shepard had to score two ringers to continue.
The 85th shoe of the playoff, thrown by Shepard, was another ringer.
Then, Shepard threw the 86th and final shoe of the tournament. As the horseshoe landed in the pit 30 feet away, the shoe hit another shoe already around the pole and bounced more than a horseshoe’s length away, giving Taylor the win and the world championship.
“That’s horseshoes,” said Shepard, a Colorado resident. “It’s the way it is. You never know. I’ve been champion for six [consecutive] years, so it’s time for someone new.”
“I was praying that it would bounce off,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know if it was a ringer or not until I walked up.”
The senior women’s world championship will return in 2019 at the World Horseshoe Pitching Championships in Wichita Falls, Texas. The 2018 World Horseshoe Pitching Championships conclude today as the open division men’s and women’s champions are crowned, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Florence Center.