North Shelby Takes Thrilling Eight Inning Conference Game
By David Sharp
Knox County brought an unbeaten Tri-Rivers Conference softball record to a September 18, 2008 prime time match up at North Shelby. The Lady Raiders had not yet won a conference game, losing close contests to Clark and Putnam County.
North Shelby would not be denied in a thrilling game that was decided on the final play. Lady Raider all-stater Jillian Yoder led off the bottom of the eighth inning and scored on a close play at the plate, lifting North Shelby (6-4, 1-2) to a 1-0 victory over Knox County.
Both teams made difficult plays in the field, preserving the scoreless tie through regulation. Both sides had chances to put runs on the board, but were held off until Jessica Trenhaile put the ball grounded sharply to second base with the bases loaded and none out in the NS eighth inning.
Hannah Dale doubled leading off the contest but was stranded on third base. Stacey Leckbee took advantage of a fielding error and beat out a close play at first base with two down in the KCHS second inning.
Leckbee stole second base but was stranded when Jillian Yoder induced a ground ball to North Shelby second sacker Olivia Ahern for the final out. It was North Shelby’s turn to threaten in the bottom of the inning.
Jessica Linberger led off the NS second with a single. Rachel Echternacht sacrifice bunted the runner to second base. Kaley Sutton took care of the second out at first base. Linberger moved on to third base on the play. Brittany Miller duplicated Jillian Yoder’s first inning strikeout, ending the NS second inning in like fashion preserving the scoreless tie.
Hannah Dale belted her second double of the contest with one out in the KCHS third inning. Jillian Yoder stepped up and fanned the next two batters in order. Olivia Ahern drew a two out walk. Myra Parrish took care of the final out with fans still waiting for the first run.
Both teams made defensive plays in the fifth inning. North Shelby shortstop Jessica Linberger hung on to a Stacey Leckbee pop despite running into a teammate for the first out. First baseman Anecia Miller dug a low throw out of the dirt, keeping Kathleen Hinkle off the base paths ending the KCHS fifth frame.
Kaley Sutton saved one of her infielders a throwing error when she dug the softball out of the dust, robbing Jessica Trenhaile an opportunity to travel the sacks leading off the North Shelby fifth.
The play loomed larger when Jana Werr singled on the next at bat. Kelsie Bonnell moved the runner up with a bunt. Brittany Miller fielded a short grounder cleanly and fired to Kaley Sutton for the last out of the fifth inning. The game remained scoreless.
Jillian Yoder set down two of Knox County’s best offensive players in order to begin the KCHS sixth inning. Amanda Woods and Kaley Sutton stroked two out base hits, putting runners on first and second base with two down.
Brittany Miller lashed a fly ball to center field. Jessica Trenhaile made a sure handed catch in a high sky for the final out, stranding Knox County’s fourth and fifth runners of the game to date.
The home plate umpire ruled Mariah Jones was hit on the hand by a pitch with one out in the North Shelby sixth inning. The Lady Eagles went after the lead runner on a ground ball back to the mound on the next play.
The fielder could not get to the base in time and dropped the throw for an error. Kaley Sutton made another sure handed catch at first base for the second out. Rachel Echternacht drew a two out walk loading the bases.
Katie Ausmus fielded a well hit ball cleanly and retired the side. North Shelby left their sixth runner on base in a no run game through six innings.
Both teams had chances to score in the seventh inning. Lorrie Peters reached on an error leading off the top of the seventh. Stacey Leckbee bunted the runner to second. Peters moved on to third base on a wild pitch. Jillian Yoder fanned the next two batters with no scoring.
A dropped third strike put a North Shelby runner on base in the seventh inning but the threat was extinguished. The game went to extra innings tied at zero.
Hannah Dale beat out a dropped third strike putting a runner on first base with none out in the KCHS eighth inning. Myra Parrish grounded sharply to Olivia Ahern at second base.
Dale and Ahern ran together while Ahern was attempting to throw out the runner at first base. The rules clearly state a base runner has the responsibility to avoid contact with a fielder while that fielder is making a play on or with the ball.
The KCHS runner was called out by interference, putting Myra Parrish on first base with one out. The next two Knox County batters struck out, leaving the runner on first base.
Jillian Yoder led off the North Shelby eighth inning with a base hit. Jessica Linbererger grounded to the right side of the infield. Yoder was able to avoid a tag and both runners reached base safely. Rachel Echternacht stroked an infield single, loading the bases with none out.
Knox County moved their infield and outfield in. Jessica Trenhaile put the ball in play. The well hit ball was fielded cleanly but the throw home could not be handled and Jillian Yoder raced home with the game winner.
North Shelby scored one run on four hits with ten runners left on base. Jillian Yoder was the winning pitcher with ten strikeouts in eight innings pitched. “I can’t say enough about Knox (County). They have a good ball club,” said Missouri Softball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Angie Resa.
“We had chances to score earlier in the ball game,” said Coach Resa. “We couldn’t push it across. They had scoring opportunities and they couldn’t get it done either. That’s a tribute to two great teams when they play defense like that.”
Coach Resa commented on her returning all stater and the fact that North Shelby had played two of the better teams in the Tri-Rivers and had not won a conference game before this one.
“(Jillian Yoder) is a competitor,” said Resa. “We were 0-2 in the conference and it really meant a lot to get a win. It’s not all about conference to us. We really want to finish well and be ready for district time. Playing teams like Knox County will make us a better team come district time.”
Knox County lost their second game of the season and dropped to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference. Both the Lady Eagle losses are to good teams on the final play of the game. Knox County was blanked on four hits and stranded seven base runners.
Hannah Dale was 2-4 with a pair of doubles pacing the KCHS offense. Brittany Miller (6-2) struck out seven batters with two walks and a hit batsman in seven innings plus. Miller struck out 30 batters during the three game week and pitched a no hitter at Brookfield.
“This is the type game that is going to get us ready for districts,” said Lady Eagle head softball coach Stephanie Crawford. “This was a tough game with a good team. We knew that coming in. We had a few bad breaks and missed opportunities. It turned out on the wrong side of the coin.”
“We had a runner in scoring position on the first play of the game when Hannah Dale led off with a double. We couldn’t convert it into a run,” said Coach Crawford.
“That just can’t happen if you are going to win close ball games like this. We can’t leave that many base runners on and make base running errors and expect to win a ball game.”
The Lady Eagles have a pair of big conference games coming up this week. Knox County hosts Putnam County on September 23 and travels to Schuyler County for another conference contest on September 25. The Lady Eagles and Brashear take part in the Schuyler County varsity softball tournament on Saturday, September 27.