Evergreen rang up a six run lead, then had to hold off a Patrick Henry rally in the seventh, defeating the Patriots 8-7 in a huge Northwest Ohio Athletic League softball contest Monday.
The Vikings are now locked in a three-way tie for first with Wauseon and Archbold.
“We knew that nobody was going to get out of the NWOAL this year unscathed,” said Viking coach Andy Langenderfer. “There are way too many good teams. The fact that we lost early to Archbold put us in a real bind. We knew PH was going to come to play since they also had a loss. They are very well-coached and really battle.
“With Archbold losing to Wauseon who also had a loss really opened the door right now.”
Kelsie Komisrek’s double and Andrea Smithmyer’s RBI single off the wall gave the Vikings a quick 1-0 lead in the first.
Then in the third, like a lightning bolt, the Vikes struck for five more.
An error and Courtney Couts’ base hit put runners on first and second with one down.
Then Myra Kuszmaul rifled a line drive over the center field fence for a three-run jack that put Evergreen up 4-0.
“Not only was that great for the scoreboard but it was great for the energy of the team,” Langenderfer said of his senior centerfielder’s shot. “Myra is a spark plug physically and emotionally in the dugout and that hit really got people even more involved.”
After another Patriot error and a walk, Lexi Thibodeaux hammered a run-scoring double to make it 5-0 and a Sarah Myers safety squeeze bunt added one more.
Audrey Sonnenberg and Ella Meyer laced run-scoring hits off Couts in the fourth to get the Patriots within 6-2, and Kaity Johnson’s two-run double in the fifth cut that lead in half at 6-4.
However, the Vikes answered right back in the bottom of the inning.
Zoe VanOstrand singled, Thibodeaux drew a walk, and Myers singled to load the bases.
Kennedy Keller’s bases-loaded walk forced in one run and Komisarek singled to right to mark a second run to double the Evergreen lead, 8-4.
That lead stood until the seventh.
An error and Johnson’s base hit put two Patriots on, and Sonnenberg followed that with a long homer to center that shaved the Viking lead to 8-7.
Couts got the next two hitters on an easy bounce out and a pop fly, but Erin Diem singled to center to bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
But Couts came through getting Abby McGraw on strikes to end the game.
“Patrick Henry really climbed back in, give them plenty of credit,” explained Langenderfer. “Getting the eight and nine hitters out was huge after that home run because we know how dangerous the top of their order is. To make a pitch to get out of the game like that was huge.”
The Vikings also picked up a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Toledo Whitmer on Tuesday.
Evergreen rallied from a 4-0 deficit, getting a walk-off RBI single from VanOstrand in the bottom of the seventh.
After giving up three first-inning runs, Breanna Huffman allowed just a single unearned run to the Panthers the last six innings to pick up the win.
Evergreen now travels to Wauseon for a huge NWOAL contest on Thursday.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org