It wasn’t a typical response from a coach and player who hadd just won a sectional championship, but then again it wasn’t a typical finish either.
Both Chrissie Saunders and Katy Johnson paused before using the word “strange” to describe Yorktown’s 11-1 win over Delta in the Blackford Sectional softball championship game Thursday.
“I guess I was a little bit shocked because I’ve never seen a game end like that,” Saunders said.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tigers led 4-1 and were looking to build on their two-run fourth inning just minutes earlier.
Kendra Saunders hit a lead-off double before the next two batters reached on consecutive errors by the Eagles, loading the bases with no outs.
After playing Yorktown relatively even through three-plus innings, Delta’s demeanor changed in the field. The team looked nervous and it seemed one more mistake would cause a monumental collpase.
It quickly turned into that after Angela Naaman walked the next two batters and was pulled. Kelsey Dreher couldn’t regain control of the game, however, as the two pitchers combined to walk or hit seven batters in the fifth inning, surrendering seven runs to end the game on the 10-run rule.
“The game kind of ended weird, but we came in and got some key hits and scored runs when we needed to,” Johnson said.
While the game was decided in the final inning, the psychological damage seemed to be done in the fourth.
Naaman had held the Yorktown offense to three hits prior to that point, but a Harlie Holding bunt single opened the door for the top of the lineup. Johnson brought her in with an RBI double and Taylor Foreman quickly followed with an RBI triple to make the score 4-1.
“That was a pivotal moment,” Saunders said. “Early on, I felt like we weren’t being patient and were swinging at stuff that wasn’t going to produce that quality of a hit. They started settling in and being a little more patient and it paid off.”
Grace Lumpkin struck out the side in the top of the fifth inning, ending any hope of Delta’s rebuttal. The quick turnaround made the Eagles’ three-run deficit seem almost insurmountable.
For the second consecutive game, Yorktown blew the game open in the final inning and secured its second consecutive sectional title at 3A.
Eight different Tigers had at least one RBI, with Johnson leading the offense with three runs, two hits and two runs batted in.
Delta scored its lone run in the third inning when Breanna Sizelove knocked in Lindsey Welsh on a fielder’s choice. Darby Koger’s double was the only other hit surrendered by Lumpkin. She finished with six strikeouts and one walk.
“Whenever we have good defensive games, we seem to have good offensive games,” Johnson said. “This game we put them both together and worked as a team to score. We only had one error in the field, which is good for a win like this.”