Any walk-off win is good, even if it’s not in the prettiest fashion.
In Thursday’s softball contest between Fond du Lac and Oshkosh North, Cardinals head coach Julie Ziegler didn’t care, as long as they picked up their first win.
With bases loaded and no outs and the score tied 7-7, Cardinals’ Kelli Cole came to the plate.
Cole hit a fly ball to left field, which was caught, but Ziegler didn’t send the runner from third because she was shallow enough to throw out the runner at home.
Despite that, the left fielder threw it in thinking there would be a play at the plate and it sailed over the catchers head, sending in Mackenna Mitchell from third to give the Cardinals a 8-7 win in Fond du Lac.
“A win is a win and it was ugly, but it’s good to finally get one under our belts,” Ziegler said.
Cole said all she was thinking at the plate was to put it in play because she knew it would potentially score a run.
“It feels great,” the sophomore said. “I just wanted to get on base and the bases were loaded, so any way on would score a run.”
The final play seemed fitting, as the theme of the game seemed to be full of defensive woes. It didn’t matter whether it was fielding errors or just simply bad throws; it seemed to cost the Spartans in the end.
“It was a tough game, I thought our girls played well,” Spartans head coach Anne Stanislawski said. “One thing seemed to lead to another and it’s something were trying to improve upon game by game, but it was a disappointment but we learned from it and well move on.”
The Cardinals rally started in the sixth inning, as they trailed the Spartans 7-4. Emily Nett and Shania Schibbelhut started the inning off with back-to-back walks, and then a Mindy Smet base hit would knock in one run. Two batters later, a Sadie Warner sac fly would bring in another to cut the lead to 7-6.
Then, in the bottom half of the seventh, Mackenna Mitchell would reach base after a fielding error and then Ari Schmidt would record a base hit. After another Nett walk, Schibbelhut singled to drive in one run, leading to the game winner by Cole.
“We just told them to dig deep and that we know what you can do, you just have to keep pushing through and good things will happen.” Ziegler said of the girls hitting in the final inning.
The Cardinals recorded three hits in the final two innings, but were also walked three times.
“I’m proud of everyone whether they played or not,” she said. “The bench was loud and they were great on the field. They picked each other up when they could have been down.”
The Spartans opened up the game with two runs in the first, but Fond du Lac would respond with three of their own– all from a 3-run inside the park home run from Mitchell.
The Spartans would tack on four more in the third and one more in the fifth to take a 6-4 lead going into the sixth.
While the Spartans committed five errors compared to the Cardinals one, it wasn’t the errors that made the game ‘ugly’. The Cardinals just shot themselves in the foot, as four of the Spartan runs came from wild pitches.
Despite those wild pitches, pitcher Andra O’Brien really started to get in a groove late into the game despite the early struggle.
“The kid works hard, she knows what she needs to do and she doesn’t let a lot bother her,” Ziegler said. “She puts in the time and it shows.”
O’Brien finished the game going all seven innings, allowing seven runs on six hits, while striking out six.
Mitchell led the way with a 1-for-4 performance, which included her 3-run inside the parker. Erin Cole and Ari Schmidt added two hits each.
Osh North…204 010 0 — 7 6 5
Fond du Lac 310 002 2 — 8 8 1
WP: Andra O’Brien (7 IP, 7 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks). LP: Cassie Buerger (7 IP, 8 R, 8 H, 6 BB, 2 Ks).
Leading hitters: Oshkosh North — Cassie Buerger, 2×4, 2B; Maddie Bittner, 1×2; Megan Pett, 1×2, RBI. Fond du Lac — Mackenna Mitchell, 1×4, HR, 3 RBI; Mindy Smet, 1×1; Erin Cole, 3×4, 2 RBI; Ari Schmidt, 2×4.