The only walk of the game was basically intentional. It loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, put the Wapakoneta Redskins’ best hitter Renee Lovett on base and brought a struggling Redskins sophomore Sierra Sammons to the plate.
Sammons, who was 0 for 4 until that point, sliced a grounder to shortstop which was bobbled, allowing Bridgitte Weaks to score from third, giving Wapakoneta a 2-1 win Friday in nine innings over the Shawnee Indians in a Western Buckeye League varsity softball contest.
“It was nice to see them walk our best hitter,” Wapak varsity coach Bill Sammons said. “My daughter, Sierra, who has been struggling the past two days, at least put the ball in play to make good things happen.”
A lot the balls Wapak put in play Friday were in-between holes in the Shawnee defense, and several times the Indians made exceptional but lucky outs to hold down the Redskins.
Rare was a Wapak ball in play Friday which could have been labeled routine, except for the Sammons’ grounder to shortstop. This time it was mishandled.
“If you look at how it went, we hit the ball all night,” Sammons said. “We hit shots to the outfield and they made great catches. We were doing the job we had to do, but as far as softball goes, it’s just how it is. Sometimes you make plays. They were making great plays.
“We were doing our job offensively. It evened out at the end of the game. They made some errors when we could have gotten hits.”
The Redskins’ walkoff winner ended a tremendous pitching duel between Lovett and Shawnee’s Kaylyn Shick.
Shawnee was put to the brink of a 1-0 loss during its at-bat in the top of the seventh before getting some help to put the game in extra innings.
Alyssa Windau reached on a fielder’s error with two outs. The next hitter, Courtney Young, ripped a line drive to the outfield which got past Wapak’s left fielder. The error allowed Windau to score the tying run from her starting spot at first base and let Young reach second base after her single.
Lovett struck out the next hitter for the third time in the game with Young, the go-ahead run, at second base.
Lovett singled and advanced to second base on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh but was stranded to send the game into extra innings.
Each team went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning.
Shawnee’s cleanup hitter, Kierstan Courtney, previously 0 for 3 in the game, opened the top of the ninth with a single. After a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly, Courtney, the go-ahead run, was on third base with two outs but Lovett induced a Windau pop-up to end the inning, setting up Wapak’s game-ending theatrics in the bottom of the inning.
Morgan Dirr led the frame with single but was retired as the second out of the inning on Bridgette Weaks’ fielder’s choice two batters later.
Tiffanie Camper then reached hit a grounder to third base. The throw across the diamond to first base was not caught, allowing Weaks to reach third with the ball on the ground.
Camper stole second, so the Indians intentionally walked Lovett to load the bases, leading to Sammons’ ball in play to shortstop, where an error gave the Redskins a 2-1 walkoff win.
Lovett (5-0) threw nine innings to earn the win, allowing one run (zero earned), six hits and zero walks, posting 13 strikeouts. Lovett reached a two-strike count against 20 of the 34 batters she faced Friday.
Shick, meanwhile, tossed 8 2/3 innings. She allowed nine hits, two runs (zero earned) and the intentional walk to Lovett, striking out eight Redskins hitters.
The extra-inning affair went scoreless through four full innings Friday.
The Redskins posted the game’s first run in the fifth. Riley Culver singled and replaced by pinch runner Weaks, who advanced to third on a Lovett single and scored on a fielder’s error.
Lovett, Blasia Moyler, Megan Fisher and Morgan Dirr each had two hits Friday for Wapak.
Sammons explained his thoughts on the win over Shawnee itself, which gave Wapak at 2-0 start in WBL play and kept his team unbeaten through six games this season.
“This big thing is any rivalry you gotta take out the records,” he said. “They have an amazing team. We each have young, great teams.
“I just knew this was a game we needed to win for maturity reasons. The girls are so young. I wanted to show the girls that if you stay focused and keep working hard, good things are going to happen. That’s exactly what happened.”
Friday’s game was the Redskins’ fourth in four days.
They will be off today and resume their season Monday against the Celina Bulldogs in the first of three straight league games on the road.
Sammons provided closure on a busy week for his team.
“I just want to keep them humble. I’ll run them (today),” he said wryly. “We’ll keep them humble and go from there.”