Jasper rallies after falling behind early

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

Last night’s softball game started ominously enough as the Jasper Wildcats gave up four quick runs to Mount Carmel to open the game. But the Wildcats rallied together and not only made up the four-run deficit, but went on to post another ten runs on 17 hits to topple the Golden Aces 14-4 in five innings.

Jasper head coach Matt Pryor loved the way his team pushed through their early adversity and credited the seniors as the focal point for the team regrouping and striking back from the bottom of the first inning until the end of the game.

“Spotting them four runs, yout start thinking in your mind ‘This is going to be one of those nights,” he said. “But the way they responded in the bottom of the first, they weren’t going to let that happen on senior night. I can’t say enough about the leadership we had all year by our seniors and the confidence they give us. Tonight was just a great game by every single person who touched the field tonight.”

The Golden Aces (7-8, 0-2) were able to set up early scoring opportunities after their first three batters all managed to get on base. Third baseman Avary Daum sent in the first run with a single, and freshman starter Faith Fuller followed suit in the next at-bat to give Mt. Carmel a 2-0 lead. A couple of plate appearances later freshman right fielder Mackenzie Sisson hit a single that drove in Daum and Fuller to make it a 4-0 game going into the bottom of the first.

But the Wildcats (9-7, 3-0) wouldn’t stay down for long. With one out, junior second baseman Grace Colvin clipped a double and scored senior center fielder Taylor Mitchell for Jasper’s first run. Junior designated player Madison Matheis made it a one-score game when after she singled and sent in Colvin and freshman left fielder Kennedy Matheis. The Wildcats finally closed the gap for good when senior third baseman Rachel Gress turned in her single and drove in Madison Matheis.

From the the second inning on the game was all about the hitters as the Wildcats’ batting order started to heat up and make contact with everything that came across the plate. Junior catcher Emily Heim led off the bottom of the second with a single then made her way to third base thanks to a bunt from sophomore starting pitcher Mia Werner and a single from Mitchell. Colvin used a sacrifice bunt to bring in Heim for Jasper’s fifth run.

Both teams went scoreless in the third inning, but Jasper was able to use the fourth to take full control of the game. Colvin started with a single, stole second base, and advanced to third after a base hit from Kennedy Matheis. Colvin completed her trip around the field after Gress notched her second RBI single of the evening. Sophomore pinch hitter Hannah Schwenk drove in Kennedy Matheis to put the Wildcats up 7-4.

The Wildcats closed the door on the Golden Aces in the fifth. Colvin knocked in Mitchell and junior pinch runner Nicole Mehringer for the first two runs, and a Kennedy Matheis double put the Wildcats up 10-4. Madison Matheis hit a single and an errant throw from right field allowed Kennedy Matheis to round third base and score. Senior shortstop Halli Leinenbach singled and brought in junior pinch runner Lexi Jerger for the fifth run of the inning. Heim wasted no time getting her base hit to send in Leinenbach. Then with the bases loaded Colvin stayed patient at the plate and drew a walk that scored sophomore pinch runner Kendyl Ruhe, put the Wildcats up 14-4 and caused the umps to call the game.

Werner allowed three hits, four runs, one walk, and struck out four in five innings. Colvin finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs. Heim and Matheis each had three hits and drove in a run. Gress finished 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Fuller allowed 17 hits for 14 runs and struck out two in four and two-thirds innings. Sisson had two RBI, while Fuller and Daum each drove in a run.

“I think we responded really well,” said Colvin. “It was us getting tired of staying down, so we fought back and we got the win we deserved.”

“I was proud to see how we all responded after the first inning,” added Gress. “It was a bad defensive inning and to see how we responded with our bats, it was good to see people finally starting to do what we have been preaching all year.”

Pryor took the game as a positive sign of growth in the way the Wildcats overcame an early deficit instead of getting in their heads about the mistakes they made in the first inning. He hopes that they continue on with that attitude as the team prepares for the latter half of the season and postseason play.

“We have turned a corner here,” he said. “At the beginning of the season we were playing tight, worried about making mistakes. Now we just move on, we don’t even think about what previously happened. Their mindset has matured over the season from being nervous to just playing the game. We’re getting to the point where we’re just playing the game and it’s fun to watch.”




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