A seven-run bottom of the fourth helped Wauseon swing the pendulum in their favor, as they ultimately were able to claw their way out of a 7-0 hole and earn a 15-11 victory over Northview in non-league softball action Tuesday.
Jayli Vasquez was the hero for the Indians, belting a grand slam with two outs for the game-winner. She finished the game 3 for 5 with that home run and a total of eight runs batted in.
She was faced with a similar situation an inning prior but struck out on a series of slow pitches from Wildcat reliever Olivia Enright.
“She’s been one of my favorite players,” said head coach Nick Lavinder of Vasquez. “I’ve coached her since her freshman year. Yeah she struck out on three straight change-ups that last at bat. Everybody’s saying ‘hey watch the change-up, watch the change-up.’ She was all over it.”
Ahead of Vasquez’ game-winning homer, the first three Wauseon batters reached on singles from Madisyn Ledyard and Ella Hageman plus an error.
Then things got interesting.
Ella Albright popped up to which the infield fly rule was called, but when the ball was dropped, the Indians’ runner on third hustled home. And although the ball beat her, the Northview catcher thought the play was a force and failed to apply the tag, scoring the tying run.
Autumn Pelok was intentionally walked to re-load the bases. Brianna Hays fouled out for the second out of the frame, followed by Vasquez.
The Wauseon skipper attributes his team’s comeback ability to their hard work and dedication at practice. And with the weather not cooperating so far this spring, that work has to come inside a gymnasium.
“I can’t be more proud,” explained Lavinder. “They are in the gym every day working. Just keep working on their swings. I told them at the beginning of the year, our struggle at the beginning (of the season) is gonna be nobody’s seen varsity (pitching). We’re a young team.”
The Wildcats grabbed the 11-10 lead in the top of the seventh thanks to Cailyn Hoel’s RBI double to left field scoring a runner from first base.
Earlier in the contest, Northview scored four runs in the first and three more in the second for a 7-0 advantage through an inning and a half. Driving in runs for the Wildcats during that span were Emily Kahan (3), Samantha Thielen, Grace Bowers and Olivia Topolski.
Wauseon scored an unearned run in the second, then in the third, Vasquez drove in her first of eight runs on the day to bring them within 7-2.
However, the Cats got that one back the next half inning as Sophia McKarus reached on a bunt single, stole second base, and was driven in by Bowers, who singled.
In the home half of the fourth, the Indians sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring seven runs on six hits.
The big blow in the inning was a bases-clearing double by Vasquez that made it 8-7. She wouldn’t be on second for long when the next hitter, Ava Kovar, smacked a home run to straight away center field to put the Indians on top (9-8).
Wauseon outscored Northview 6-3 over the game’s final three innings. Their pitching and defense seemed to settle in after some early struggles.
“We got a heck of a leader behind the plate in Bri (Hays). She knows the game. (Shortstop) Autumn (Pelok) always wants the ball in her hand. Just the basketball instinct, ‘hey give me the ball.’ She wants to make a play somewhere and she’s gonna,” said Lavinder on some of his defensive playmakers.
Ledyard picked up the win in the circle while Enright suffered the loss for the Cats.
Wauseon (4-4) has a pair of Northwest Ohio Athletic League contests coming up when they visit Evergreen Thursday before returning home to take on Delta Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.