A confident group from Evergreen was not fazed as twice they fell behind by more than three runs Tuesday in a home softball sectional semifinal in Division III. They continued to plug away until finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Jamie VanLoocke hit a sacrifice fly to bring home the winning run for an 11-10 victory over Genoa.
“These girls are in every game they play in,” said victorious coach Todd Momany of his team. “They’ve got the confidence to know that when we have a bad inning, we are gonna have more good innings than bad innings. They truly, truly believe that and they’ve come through many times this year.”
The Vikings’ second comeback effort came after Genoa scored three runs in the top of the fourth thanks to a leadoff walk and an error, as well as a two-run single from Amanda Tucholski. This made the margin 7-4 in favor of the Comets.
Evergreen’s Megan Simon reached second on an errant throw to first leading off the next half inning, then scored on a Jamie VanLoocke double. Grace Bryson was next up and walked, bringing in a new pitcher for the Comets, Sara Blausey.
After a pair of Viking outs, they then got a walk, followed by a two-run single by Courtney Couts to knot the score at 7-7.
However, with runners on second and third and two down in the top of the fifth, Erica Smith reached on an infield single which put Genoa back on top. Tucholski followed suit with an RBI single to give the Comets a two-run edge.
Evergreen scored three in the home half of the sixth, beginning with Bryson who got to second on Genoa’s drop in the outfield. She then made it to third on a wild pitch.
Mikayla Ball’s sacrifice fly would plate Bryson for the eighth Evergreen run. The Vikings then got a single, Kelsie Komisarek struck out but reached first after the ball got away from the catcher tying the game, and Zoe VanOstrand tripled to the fence to give the Vikings a 10-9 lead heading into the seventh.
Genoa was able to get a pair of one-out walks to get them going, but when Tucholski hit into a fielder’s choice enabling Evergreen to get the lead runner at third, the Comets were down to their final out.
However, Blausey would find a hole up the middle for a single that scored Smith to tie the game once again, this time sending it to extra innings.
Neither team could push a run across in the eighth, but the Vikings sealed the deal in the ninth. VanOstrand led off the frame with a walk, Sara Myers executed a bunt perfectly for a single, then Simon’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners.
The call from Momany worked as VanLoocke flied out to shallow left center which was deep enough to score VanOstrand for the winning run.
A leadoff hit by pitch, a walk and an error hurt the Vikings in the top of the first as all three of those Comet base runners came around to score. They also scored on a ground out off the bat of Blausey to lead 4-0 midway through the first.
“It was just more mental lapses and nerves at the beginning. And some people playing out of position that they hadn’t been playing very long,” said Momany of his team’s early struggles. “But once we adjusted to their game, we made our adjustments and came out on top.”
The Vikings would notch three runs in the bottom of the second and another in the third off an RBI from Komisarek for their first comeback of the game.
Evergreen’s offense was led by VanOstrand who went 4 for 4 with a walk and an RBI, in addition to scoring the winning run. Tucholski paced Genoa, going 3 for 4 with a walk and four RBIs.
Looking ahead, the Vikings know they must play better defensively to get by their next opponent. They travel to take on NWOAL foe Archbold Friday for the sectional championship.
“They are very good. Aggressive on the base paths too,” said Momany of the Blue Streaks. “We have to play a perfect game to have a chance with them.
“I respect their program very much. They are the pinnacle in our league.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010