Freshman’s clutch hit saves Lady Bobcats
Basehor-Linwood softball team comes from behind to salvage split vs. Mill Valley
Annie King may be a freshman, but there are few batters that Basehor-Linwood softball fans wanted to see come up with the game on the line more than her Tuesday night. King, who was 6 for 8 on the evening, came through big time with a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning. King's hit completed a spirited comeback that allowed the Lady 'Cats to salvage a split with Kaw Valley League rival Mill Valley.
Basehor-Linwood coach Susan Mayberry has seen her share of comebacks at Field of Dreams, and the fact that Tuesday's ended off the bat of a freshman didn't seem to surprise her.
"Some people just have that instinct," Mayberry said. "You know, we've got a team where, no matter who it is, they come up under pressure, they thrive on it."
The Lady 'Cats put a little pressure on themselves to win game two Tuesday after dropping their two previous games. They pasted Blue Valley Northwest 10-0 in five innings to win the season opener, but then lost a couple of close ones. BVNW beat them in the nightcap 3-1, despite getting outhit by BLHS. Then Mill Valley held off a late rally to take the first game Tuesday 7-5.
With their record at 1-2, the Lady 'Cats came dangerously close to falling two games under .500 early in the year. The Lady Jags went up 3-0 in the second inning when Cat White slammed a two-run homer after taking a pitch that the BLHS fans thought was strike three. Things got worse in the fourth inning, when Mill Valley loaded the bases with no outs.
BLHS pitching ace Kristal Holland then walked in a run on another agonizingly close pitch and the game stood on the brink. The Lady 'Cats trailed 4-0 with the bases still loaded and no outs. The game could have gotten out of hand quickly, but they never lost their poise.
"We tried to just keep the energy going and get out of a tough situation to bring home the win," left fielder Erin Shore said.
They got out of the jam, thanks in large part to Holland. The senior seriously bore down, getting a huge strikeout and then two easy groundouts to end the inning without further damage.
Once the Bobcats survived the top of the fourth, the momentum swayed to their favor. They got three runs in their half of the fourth by patching together a walk, two singles, an error, two wild pitches and a run-scoring ground out by King.
Holland then came out tough again in the fifth, retiring the side in just four batters. She got fielding help from King in the sixth when the freshman made a sliding catch in right field and doubled off a runner at second.
Still, the Lady 'Cats were short a run going into the bottom half of the sixth. They were able to tie the score when King and Maggie Schroeder blasted consecutive two-out doubles.
Mill Valley retook the lead almost immediately, though. The Lady Jaguars led off the seventh with a triple and then scored on a groundout. The sacrifice grounder put Mill Valley up 5-4 and set up a do-or-die situation for the meat of the BLHS lineup in the bottom of the seventh.
Chelsea Patton started off the last-ditch rally with a walk. Holland followed with a base hit to center and the Bobcats had something going. Shore, who had stranded runners at second and third twice earlier in the game, came up with a chance to redeem herself.
"I just went up there with as much confidence as I could because I knew I needed to help the team," Shore said.
The all-league junior delivered in a big way, lacing a line drive directly over first base and into right field. With speedster Ashlee Espinoza running for Holland at first, the hit should have ended the game. But the ball found a gap in the fence and Shore had to settle for a ground-rule double, with Espinoza getting sent back to third.
The Bobcats then loaded the bases, but lost their lead runners on two straight groundouts. There was no way they wanted to go to extra innings and King made sure they didn't have to. The freshman lined a solid single to center that scored the game-winner and set off a wild celebration at home plate.
The Lady 'Cats next action will come Thursday, April 6 vs. Tonganoxie.
First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.