Times Sports Editor
The Northview softball team has nearly perfected its blowout ability, winning four of its seven games by double-digits. However, on Monday night, the Knights worked on its comeback flair.
The Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie Plainfield in the bottom of the seventh inning and then Alyssa Conrad drove home the game-winning run with a single that brought home Hope Torbert for a thrilling, 3-2, victory.
"I'm excited, I don't even know what to say," Conrad said moments after her game-winner. "I was just hoping she would drop it and we could get that one run."
In order to get that winning run, Torbert led off the eighth inning with a single up the middle and Sarah Phillips followed with a one-out single to left field. After relief pitcher, Courtney Collins, got Nicole Nelson to fly out for the second out of the inning, Conrad served a 3-2 pitch into centerfield to score Torbert to keep the Knights' unbeaten at 8-0 overall.
Northview threatened to strike early against Plainfield starter, Erin Laswell.
Ashley Hughes and Taylor Carter drew one-out walks in the first inning and Lauren Webster reached on an error to load the bases. However, Laswell struck out Torbert to end the first threat.
The Quakers' defense was nearly flawless as the outfield made several diving or sliding catches to take away extra base hits for the Knights.
"Plainfield has a great defense. There were probably three balls that they snagged that I was impressed that they were caught," Knights' coach Bethany Jones said. "Give credit to Plainfield for playing great defense. The first two innings we left five girls on base and you can't do that against teams, period. We have to be aggressive at the plate, yet selective. I felt like we were letting the gut shots go and then having to swing at her outside pitch. We just couldn't get contact made."
In the fifth inning, Nelson made a great sliding catch to retire Kelsey Bruhn to lead off the inning. With two outs, Plainfield's Katie Gilbert smacked a hard single down the leftfield line. Hallie Johanningsmeier fell behind in the count, but came back to tomahawk a two-run homerun to rightfield to put the Quakers' ahead 2-0.
The Knights were down to their final at-bat after Laswell allowed only a walk to Conrad in the fifth inning and retired the side in order in the sixth inning.
However, the Knights were resilient with their collective backs against the wall.
Phillips led off the seventh with a short, looping single to leftfield and Conrad smacked a one-out single off shortstop, Jessie Ping's mitt.
With two runners on and one out, Plainfield turned to Collins in relief for the final two outs.
Collins retired Hughes via strikeout for the second out of the inning, which brought Carter to the plate.
The sophomore responded by lacing a single to centerfield to drive in Phillips for the first run and a wildpitch to Conrad moved the runners into scoring position. Jessica LaTourette came to the plate and chopped a grounder to first base that caromed off Michelle McGary's mitt. The second baseman scooped the ball up, but LaTourette beat her to the bag as the tying run scored.
"When I walked up (to the plate), there were two outs, it's 2-1 and I'm a senior, I knew I needed to step in and help my team," LaTourette said. "All I could see was that (Plainfield's second baseman) was coming and I had to get (to first base). This just shows that we can win, even win we're behind. We stayed up the entire time, this shows we're a tough team."
Jones agreed and said that she had reminded her squad of last year's comeback victory over the Quakers.
"In the sixth or seventh inning, I stopped (our team) and said, 'You know what would have happened last year,'" Jones said. "We were down 6-0 last year and we came back and beat (Plainfield), I said, 'You can still do this.'"
Carter retired Plainfield via three strikeouts in the eighth inning to set up the final heroics.
"We had some people step up tonight, it was more than just our seniors," Jones said. "Sarah Phillips led us off with a great hit in the seventh inning and Alyssa Conrad had a couple of big hits. "It's good to see some of the younger girls step up."
Carter's pitching line included 11 strikeouts, two runs and five hits over eight innings. Haven Eder had two singles for the Knights and Conrad reached base four times with two walks and two singles. Phillips also added two base hits in the victory.
"We haven't had a close game like this, it's a good experience for the girls and I'm glad we came out with a win," Jones said.
The Knights' game against Sullivan, originally slated for tonight, has been moved to May 9 and Northview will face Terre Haute South on the road Thursday at 5 p.m.
HR -- PL (Johanningsmeier). CS -- PL (Stahl). Sac -- Nv (Nelson, Phillips, Hughes).
|Carter (W, 7-0)||8.0||2||5||1||11|