Times Sports Editor
If the Northview softball team takes anything away from Thursday's 8-7 win over visiting Shakamak, it's that you can never look past an opponent.
With a weekend trip to the Jasper Invitational Tourney and games against the host Wildcats and traditional power, Carmel, this evening, the Knights nearly got caught by an aggressive Lakers squad that didn't back down from Northview.
The Lakers built a 6-0 lead over the first four and a half innings as freshman Kelsey Samm smacked a two-run home run off Knights' starting pitcher Whitney Halfhill in the third inning. Shakamak wasn't done as Kelsey Pilant and Makeisha Bickley singled to lead off a three-run fourth frame. Lacey Gilbert hit a grounder that was misplayed at shortstop to score a run and freshman Bryly Shipman hit a two-run single to push the lead to 5-0.
The Lakers' lead grew to 6-0 in the fifth inning as Bickley doubled and Meghan Miller drove in a run with a two-out single that ended Halfhill's evening in the circle.
Sophomore Jensen Swaim came in to relieve Halfhill and recorded the final out to end the threat and the Knights were in serious need of some momentum.
Northview needed to look no further than Swaim, who got the defense out of a jam. She sparked the offense to lead off the bottom half of the inning with a ringing double to the wall.
Swaim's double was just the Knights' third hit of the game against Lakers' starter, Laura Sue Irons, one of three freshmen in the lineup for Shakamak.
Kindra Cox followed Swaim's hit with an RBI single to bring home pinch runner Melissa Lummis. Irons was able to record the next two outs, but Ashley Hughes reached on an error that scored Cox and the rally was in full force. The error on Hughes grounder opened the door for Taylor Carter, who drilled a two-run home run to centerfield. The bomb was Carter's third in less than a week.
Shakamak gained one of those runs back in the top of the sixth inning on an RBI single by Samm that scored Jazmine Martin, who had singled.
Jones was once again happy to see the bottom third of her lineup come through with three important hits in the rally.
"The bottom of the lineup seems to be coming through for us when we need them," Jones said. "I should probably be giving them more credit than I have been. That's great to see."
With a tie game, Carter came in to pitch the seventh and shut the Lakers down and put the game back in the hands of the Northview offense, which delivered after being held in check early.
Hughes drew a walk to lead off the inning, but was thrown out at the plate as Carter followed with a double. However, Carter moved to third on a wild pitch before Alyssa Conrad served a looping single out of the reach of Laker shortstop, Mikayla Crane. Carter came home to score and the Knights gained a tough win over a up-and-coming Lakers squad.
"(Coach Shipman) talked to me before the game and he said that he's got seniors and freshmen. It looks like they are heading in the right direction," Jones said of the Lakers. "They came to play. It will be interesting to see them improve the next few years."
The Knights (6-2 overall) travel to the Jasper Invite to play the host squad at 6 p.m. followed by an 8 p.m. game against Carmel. On Saturday, the Knights take on Floyd Central.
Northview 8, Shakamak 7
2B -- Nv (Carter, McKee, Swaim), SH (Bickley). HR -- Nv (Carter), SH (Samm). SB -- Nv (None), SH (Crane, Gilbert). LOB -- Nv 4, SH 7.
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