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North Miami nips Golden Eagles in extras

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Bailey Toy had North Miami’s number last year, giving up four total runs in two softball games during the 2017 season.

Tuesday night, the Warriors had Toy’s number, scoring five runs in the third inning and another run in the fourth.

In came Julianne Gosnell, who gave up one hit that plated a run in the fourth but kept the visitors in check until the ninth inning where North Miami was able to plate two runs and win an extra-innings showdown over the Golden Eagles 9-8.

Oak Hill head coach Ben Johnson said the girls battled all game against a strong Warrior squad.

“North Miami is a good team,” Johnsons said. “We talked to the girls afterwards and said we’re a really good team but we have to trust all the girls behind us.

“The girls put some nice at-bats together but we have to have faith in one another. We kept chipping away at the gap and the only disappointing thing is that we had some tough physical and mental errors because the girls are capable of more.”

The second game of the season for the Golden Eagles started off on the right foot when Coleena Selleck reached on an error in left field and Jenessa Hasty gave the hosts a 2-0 lead with a home run to left center field.

North Miami had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but Toy was able to dodge any trouble.

That would not be the case in the third inning.

Jada Laycock singled to start the inning and moved to second on a sac bunt from Bailey Keim.

Marlie Halterman drew a walk and stole second before Maryann Freeman singled in the first run for the Warriors.

Hannah Hall was next to drive in a run with single, a passed ball allowed for the runners to move up and Ashley Lackman grounded to second base to score the third run of the inning.

Taylor Tinney provided the big bat with a two-run home run that made the score 5-2.

Hasty scored in the bottom half of the inning after reaching on a double, taking third base and scoring on Kaela Robey’s grounder to second.

Toy looked to have settled down in the fourth, getting the first two batters of the inning to ground out but was stung again when Keim singled and Halterman doubled to make the score 6-3.

The junior exited and freshman Gosnell took over in the circle, giving up a single to Freeman but inducing a ground ball to end the threat at 7-3.

“That doesn’t happen to Bailey often,” Johnson noted when asked about taking out Toy. “North Miami just had her timed. They had some hard hit balls but they dinked and dunked into the right spots.”

Oak Hill did not go away, however, getting both runs back in the bottom of the inning.

Kristin Dubois led off with a double, Gosnell drew a walk and Abigail Shaw drove in a run with a single, moving Gosnell to third where a passed ball would allow her to score and make the score 7-5.

After a scoreless fifth inning, Oak Hill pulled another run back as Selleck drew a walk and scored when, after looking to steal second, the throw to the bag came off of the right fielder’s foot and into the outfield.

Hasty also drew a walk and made it to third base but a grounder to Halterman at first base ended the threat.

Still trailing 7-6 heading into the seventh, the Golden Eagles looked down and out after two quick outs and Ella Ridgeway’s grounder to short looked to be the final play of the game.

Ridgeway beat out the throw and Gosnell came up with the goods at the plate, driving Ridgeway in to tie the game at 7-7.

Johnson praised the team’s patience at the plate, noting that several positive at-bats came from being behind in the count.

“That’s something we worked on a lot this off-season,” Johnson said when asked about the team’s plate discipline. “We started that back in the open gyms during the winter and that’s carried through to now.

“The goal is to work the count, even if the count was 0-2, because we have good batters. We’re going to see great pitchers but the girls didn’t give in, fouled off pitches and it was everything we’ve preached to the girls.”

Extra softball was required as Gosnell continued to shut the North Miami offense down and with the top of the order coming up, Oak Hill looked to be in a great spot to win the game.

Instead, Ashley Lackman shut down Selleck, Hasty and Robey in short order, sending the game to the ninth inning.

The Warriors finally cracked the Gosnell code as Hall singled, Lackman doubled and Tinney singled to retake the lead at 9-7.

Ashlyn Transier was able to draw a walk to start the bottom of the ninth and when Korinne Perkins beat out a fielder’s choice, the Golden Eagles had two on with no one out.

Dubois struck out, as did Ridgeway, but a wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third.

It was there that Johnson had Lizzie Wood pinch run for Perkins as the chance to tie the game with a base hit loomed large.

Gosnell nearly pulled off another save, beating out an infield single to plate Transier.

Wood, however, continued around third trying to score and Halterman was able to get the ball to catcher Allie Miller in time for a tag out to end the game.

Johnson said there were several positives to take after the game, noting that it was nice to have multiple options in the circle.

“We talked with both pitchers after the game,” Johnson said. “Bailey is our No. 1, both girls know where we stand and it was a pat on the back to say ‘We’re good.’

“When you have a pitcher like Ju-Ju, why not get her in there? We’ve already seen some of the things she’s capable of and she did a nice job, keeping them scoreless for four-straight innings.”

Oak Hill has a day off before traveling to Maconaquah Thursday with Johnson confident the girls would bounce back quickly.

“We told the girls afterwards that we love that they fight,” Johnson said. “We’ll have a fundamentals practice Wednesday.

“We’re not where we wanted to be after two games but we’ll work through some things and be ready to roll.”