In a season where Evergreen has pounded long range homers again and again, it was maybe the shortest RBI swing of the season when Brooklyn Richardson’s high chopper scored pinch-runner Shelby Moore with the game-winner to earn a share of the NWOAL softball title Friday in a comeback 7-6 extra inning win over Swanton.
Coupled with Archbold’s 3-2 win over previously unbeaten Bryan, Evergreen chalked up a co-championship with the Golden Bears.
“We talked all week about finishing the season strong,” said interim coach Matt Keller, who stepped in for DJ Schuster who is under the weather.
“We talked at the beginning of the week that Archbold could win that game tonight (over Bryan) and when that happens and we win I will buy them all ice cream. The bottom of the order came through all day long.”
The ice cream may or may not have motivated the Vikes but Evergreen fought back again and again past adversity as Swanton jumped up 2-1 in the first, and added on each of the next three innings to push the Bulldogs lead to 5-1 in the fourth.
Rachel Waszak’s base hit and Brie Williams’ shot over the center field fence put the Bulldogs up 2-0 in the top of the first.
Macy Chamberlin and Jocelyn Schuster ripped doubles in the bottom of the frame to chop the Swanton lead in half, but Swanton put up stick figures in the scoring column each of the next three frames.
Waszak’s double chased home Trista Eitniear in the second to make it 3-1.
Averie Lutz’ run-scoring single bounced it to 4-1 in the third, and Waszak struck again in the fourth with a double and scored on Williams’ grounder to give Swanton a four run lead.
That lead all but evaporated in the bottom of the inning with two down.
Schuster had led off with a pop fly single but the next two vikings went out.
A walk and Richardson’s single had the bases jacked with Kennedy Keller coming up, and the senior catcher delivered with a bases-clearing double to bring the Vikings back to within 5-4.
“That was a huge hit that got us back into it,” expressed Keller. “Again the bottom of the order did it all game.”
The Bulldog lead held into the bottom of the sixth.
Skylee Raker walked, was bunted to second and when Richardson followed with another bunt, Raker didn’t slow up rounded third and scored ahead of the throw to knot the game at 5-5.
One more time Waszak came through for Swanton as her fourth hit of the day, a two-out single to center brought home a go-ahead run in the top of the eighth but Evergreen had one last answer.
Schuster looped a fly ball to right that fell in to start the bottom of the inning.
Raker then rifled a base hit to right that chased Schuster to third with Raker taking second on the throw.
Lexi Thibodeaux’s fielder’s choice ground ball scored one run but Raker was cut down trying to score from second.
Thibodeaux went to second on the scrum at the plate and Moore was brought in to run for her.
Moore swiped third and when Richardson chopped the ball high off the plate, Moore raced home far ahead of a throw to give the Vikings the win.
“We talked about trying a squeeze but I had confidence in the girls coming up to put the ball in play,” stated Keller.
Breanna Huffman got the victory in the circle for Evergreen who is now 12-8 overall. The Vikings host Delta Tuesday at 5 p.m. in a Division III sectional semifinal.
Swanton tops Napoleon
Swanton rebounded the next day with a 6-3 win over Napoleon to close the regular season at 16-5. The Bulldogs had their best inning at the right time, scoring three in the bottom of the sixth to break a 3-3 tie and earn the win after previously trailing 2-0.
Waszak reached on a one-out single, moved up on a ball in the dirt, then Jayden Hendricks’ bunt single put runners at the corners. Brie Williams would reach on an error, scoring Waszak to put the Dogs in front 4-3.
A Bailey Arnold walk loaded the bases, then Eitniear made it safely on an error and when the Wildcat fielder tried to make an out at second, the ball got away allowing two runs to score.
Napoleon could only muster one base runner in the seventh as Jaidan Torres was hit by a pitch with one out, but she was left standing there.
The Wildcats went ahead first in the top of the second on RBI singles from Anna Mack and Camryn Cover. In the bottom of the inning, the Dogs cut the deficit in half thanks to Emma Operacz’ RBI single.
Swanton grabbed its first lead in the home half of the third inning.
Hendricks was hit by a pitch to lead it off and later came home on a wild pitch, knotting the game at 2-2. Later in the inning Aricka Lutz sent one to left field that was dropped to score another run and make it 3-2 Swanton.
Napoleon did retie the score in the top of the fifth. Kaylee Hoover’s RBI double to left was the culprit.
Swanton is next in action this Friday when they take on the winner of Lake and Northwood in a Division III sectional final.