Cats outlast Jeeps in dramatic fashionApril 4, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — So far this year, the Jasper softball team’s home games have had all the fixings of a blockbuster movie — highs, lows, twists, and dramatic finishes. It was no different when the Northeast Dubois Jeeps came calling yesterday evening, as the two teams combined for a showdown that had a bit of everything going on in the field. In a game that saw three ties and a late lead change, a walk-off home run made all of the difference as the Wildcats defeated the Jeeps 7-6 on Thursday night.
Jasper head coach Matt Pryor knew it was likely going to come down to the wire against the county rival Jeeps (2-2-1) but he doesn’t think the girls did themselves any favors by extending some innings with fielding errors. But, they did get timely hitting and were able to record their 21 outs, which is the Wildcats' (4-2) mantra in this opening leg of the schedule.
“It was a competitive, close game, so we were going to keep on playing no matter what,” he said. “We’re always going to stay competitive in those games. The unfortunate part is we gave them too many extra outs. There were highlights, we had some clutch hitting but there’s a lot of outs that we just handed over to them.”
The Wildcats bared their claws early as junior center fielder Lexie Jerger opened the game with a lead-off triple after her hit bounced out of the glove of Jeeps freshman center fielder Brinley Royer. A sacrifice bunt from senior shortstop Halli Leinenbach brought in Jerger for Jasper’s first run of the night.
After the top of the second inning that only saw four Jeeps batters, the Wildcats took an opportunity to extend their lead. First, sophomore designated player Mia Werner cracked senior starter Camryn Stemle for a lead-off homer to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Later, a sacrifice bunt from senior first baseman Madison Allen drove in junior right fielder Karly Thomas for the three-run lead.
But the Jeeps would make it interesting in the third inning. With junior shortstop Brooklyn Dodd and Stemle on base, freshman third baseman Hadley Fuhrman (who took to the mound in the third inning) swung for an RBI single that scored Dodd and moved Stemle to third. Junior first baseman Macie Brinkman brought in Stemle and moved Fuhrman to third with another single during the next at-bat. Brinkman then took off and stole second base, which created an opening for Furhman to scoot home and tie the game up, 3-3.
However the score equality would be broken in the bottom of the third, as a bunt from senior third baseman Rachel Gress led to an erroneous throw from sophomore catcher Rebecca Brosmer, which sailed past Brinkman as she tried to throw out Gress at first. The miscue was all that sophomore left fielder Hannah Schwenk and sophomore courtesy runner Kendyl Ruhe needed in order to cross home plate and put the Wildcats back on top, 5-3.
But the Jeeps kept plugging and simply would not go away. Fuhrman struck again in the fourth inning, this time with a two-out RBI double that scored Stemle to make it a one-run game. After a scoreless fifth inning, the Jeeps were once again able to tie the game at five runs apiece and Fuhrman was in the middle of it driving in her third run with a two-out single in the top of the sixth.
With the score tied up at 5-5, it was anyone’s game going into the seventh inning. Force out plays at first base saw sophomore designated player Alexus Royer and freshman pinch hitter Hailey Carie exit the game, but senior second baseman Elizabeth Kunz was able to reach first in between those plays thanks to a drop from Jerger in shallow center field. Then freshman center fielder Brinley Royer, who to that point was 0-for-3, clobbered a double to bring in Kunz and give the Jeeps a 6-5 lead.
But the Wildcats had a couple more tricks up their sleeves. It started with Jerger, who led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a standing triple. Leinenbach then hit into a force out play at first, but brought in Jerger to tie the game for the third time. And finally, junior starting pitcher Grace Colvin took the next pitch and lifted it out past the fences for the walk-off homerun to put the game away, 7-6.
“Hitting off the pitcher and seeing her multiple times, I knew she was going to hit inside on me,” she said. “So I just prepared myself for it and I saw that pitch and I knew I had to drive it.”
Colvin struck out five and allowed 11 hits, six runs (five earned), and four walks in seven innings. Colvin also finished 3-for-4 with the homer and a walk. Werner also had a homerun to go with her 1-for-3 night. Gress and Leinenbach each had two RBIs while Allen also drove in a run.
Stemle pitched two and one-third innings for for five hits, five runs (three earned), and a walk. Fuhrman pitched four innings for five hits and two earned runs. Fuhrman finished 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBI and one run. Dodd went 3-for-5 with two runs. Brinkman and Royer each drove in a run.
“We kept our heads up and kept pushing through it,” said Fuhrman. “We wanted to come back and win two in a row against Jasper, we kept our heads high and kept fighting.”
Jeeps coach Dion Terwiske said the game was reflective of what the team has looked like in this early going, a mixture of highs and lows that breaks up the team’s rhythm during the course of seven innings, especially inside the batter’s box. He’s hoping that the team can settle in and find some more consistency moving forward so they can gives themselves better chances in tight games such Thursday night’s contest.
“We need a good at-bat from every girl in every inning,” he said. “I’ve been on them because they’re giving away swings by either letting a good pitch go or taking a swing at a bad pitch. We just need better mental plate awareness. We had some of it at times, but we didn’t have it consistently."
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