Highland’s softball team withstood a pair of Northmor home runs in earning an 8-4 non-conference win over the Golden Knights Monday evening.
While the Scots never trailed in the contest, Northmor’s blasts kept them in the game until Highland mustered a three-run fourth inning to get some breathing room and then were able to maintain that advantage the rest of the way.
“They’re a good-hitting team for sure,” said Scot coach Abby Steele. “They were able to come back and even up the game and keep us on our toes.”
Highland picked up an early advantage with a pair of first-inning runs. After pitcher Stevie Asher got through the top of the inning with no damage done, Guinevere Jackson led off the Scots’ half with a double and was then brought home by an RBI hit from Faith Geiger. Geiger would later provide the team’s second run on a sacrifice fly from Audrey Robinson.
Northmor would quickly tie the game at 2-2, though. With one out, Mahalia Strobel was hit by a pitch and McKenna VanDyke followed with a two-run blast to even things up.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Scots were able to regain their advantage. With one out, Adyson Landefeld reached on an error. Then, with two outs, Emma West drove in Landefeld with a double and Brooklyn Croy followed with a two-run homer to make it a 5-2 game.
Northmor coach Mark Wiseman felt his team simply made too many mistakes to win, citing a multi-error performance, as well as a couple fly balls that landed between defenders.
“We don’t make every play we need to make,” he said. “We had a couple Bermuda Triangle fly balls. They have a good team. You can’t give good teams extra at bats. We work way too hard to come back and tie things up and then come back and give up two or three. You can’t dig holes against great teams.”
In the top of the fourth, Taylor Cantrell led off with a single and Stroebel followed with a two-run home run to bring Northmor within one at 5-4, but Asher was able to get out of the inning with no further damage done. Highland then increased their lead to a four-run margin in their half of the inning.
Abi Burke led off with a single and a double by Jackson put runners on second and third for Geiger, who promptly tallied a two-run double. Holding a 7-4 advantage, the Scots scored another run on a groundout by West.
“We’re trying to use every game as a stepping stone,” said Steele. “We’re making sure we’re getting better and having great base running and that’s what the girls did today.”
While Northmor was able to get runners on base in each of the final three innings, they would not be able to advance past second base, as the Scots were able to pick up the win.
While Wiseman wished that his team would have finished on top, he noted that playing tough against a tough Division II team like the Scots could pay off in the Division IV playoffs.
“We’ve been preaching all year that our schedule dictates we’ll be good in the tournament,” he said. “We’re playing 7-5 and 9-5 games against good competition and we have some freshmen really starting to grow into varsity players.”
Among those freshmen is pitcher Kate Kissling, who rebounded from a couple rough innings against Highland to be perfect in the fifth and sixth frames.
“She’s really stepped up,” said the coach. “I know she’ll go out and compete. We have a lot of kids competing hard — we just have to do better.”
As for the Scots, Steele is hoping to use three more MOAC games as a way to continue building towards postseason play. The Scots currently have a 9-2 record in league competition, putting them at the top along with an Ontario squad that inflicted both of those defeats.
“We have three big league games with River Valley and Clear Fork,” she said. “We have to win those for sure. We’re just taking it one game at a time.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS