Heather Norris lay in the pitcher’s circle during the eighth inning of Clarksville’s Class AAA softball sectional gasping for air, each desperate cough echoing through Ravenwood’s silent ballpark.
She was having an asthma attack during the biggest game of her life.
Norris recovered and stayed in the game, but the drama was far from over.
By the time the night was over, Norris thought she had the winning hit, gave up the tying homer and worked a perfect 10th for a 4-1 victory to give Clarksville its first trip to the state tournament.
“I told (Clarksville coach Brian Rush) I wanted to finish pitching,” said Norris, who used an inhaler. “I had to finish what I started.
“The hardest thing is to get my breathing back on track because that’s what messes me up. And then I just get a little dizzy, but once my dizziness went away, it was fine.”
Norris and Ravenwood’s Raygan Greer matched each other for seven soggy innings.
In the eighth, Norris answered her incident with a strikeout, one of 14, and escaped the inning.
Then in the ninth inning, Norris was up with the bases loaded and lined a run-scoring single to put Clarksville (36-10-1) on top 1-0.
But Ravenwood wasn’t done. Haley Barnette ripped a two-out pitch from Norris over the left field wall to tie the game.
The Lady Wildcats scored three runs in the 10th on an error and two singles, and Norris retired Ravenwood (31-6) in order.
“Pressure doesn’t bother her,” Rush said. “She’s a special kid that way.”
“A loss is never easy,” Ravenwood coach CJ Pangallo said. “The girls fought and battled. You just can’t always get them all.”