Squaws comeback thrwarted by Lady Eagles in ninth, 9-8
Bellmont's five-run seventh inning seemed to be one run short as the scoreboard read 9-8 and Columbia City and their coaches began to form the line for handshakes on Monday night.
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Suddenly, the home plate official motioned to the press box signaling that the score was incorrect and that the game was actually tied 8-8. After some number checking and plenty of mixed emotions from the stands, the teams went back to their dugouts for extra softball.
After all was said and done and the confusion subsided, Columbia City came away with a 9-8 win after all scoring a final run in the top of the ninth to nip Bellmont in what ended up as an amazing nail-biting NHC contest.
Down 7-3 after a five-run fourth inning (8-3 on the scoreboard), Bellmont's offense seemed to be at a stand still after a solid first three frames when they led 3-2 at one point.
Going down quietly in the fifth and sixth, the Squaws entered the seventh with little hope and just three outs remaining but senior Taylor Kuhnle stepped up and roped a lead-off single to centerfield starting a huge rally.
Hailee Hormann would draw a walk, followed by an infield single by Nicole Schevenius to load the bases with no one out. Jessica Walther made a pinch-hit appearance and hit a grounder down the first base line. After a cleanly fielded ball by first-baseman Hannah Schnorr, she applied the tag to Walther but the ball came out and everyone was safe including Kuhnle who scored a run to make it 8-4 Lady Eagles.
After a strikeout, Taylor Bird drew a walk on an excellent at-bat scoring Hormann from third. A second out on a strikeout brought the top of the order back around and Janaya Wilder saved the day with her second hit of the game, a triple to the right-centerfield wall.
All three runs came around to score tying the ball game and the cut-off was muffed by the second baseman but Bellmont coach Rick Burkhalter opted to hold the runner at third base.
"It was a game of inches today," remarked Burkhalter. "I felt good about the way we were at the plate in that seventh inning and I didn't think it was the right move to send Janaya home."
Courtney Scherer stepped up next and slapped a roller to the short stop and was just a foot short of reaching base safely and the Eagles began their preemptive celebration.
After both teams went scoreless in the eighth, catcher Ashley Williamson stroked her only hit of the game, a single up the middle to put the go-ahead runner on.
Wilder, on the mound for Bellmont, struck out the nine-batter but Williamson reached second and then third on two passed balls. After Wilder managed to get Emily Gangwer to fly out to left field for the second out, another passed ball squirted to the fence scoring Williamson for the winning run.
Walther drew a walk to start off the bottom of the ninth for Bellmont, once again down to the Eagles and then the Squaws could not get the bunt down during the next at-bat. Krystin Vanhouten, the pitcher on the mound for all nine innings against Bellmont, buckled down and struck out three straight Squaw batters to end the game unceremoniously.