OAK HARBOR – As Oak Harbor softball coach Chris Rawski put it, Emma Vidal is “a tiny, little thing but she packs a punch every time she swings.”
Her final swing Friday resulted in a run-scoring and game-winning single to lift the Rockets to a key 5-4 win over Huron in Sandusky Bay Conference play.
“I felt a lot of pressure,” Vidal said. “I wanted to get the hit and get the ball in play so we could win.”
The Rockets improve to 6-4 overall and 2-1 in the SBC.
“This group is one of the most enthusiastic groups I’ve had since I’ve been here at Oak Harbor,” said Rawski, who is in his fourth season as Rockets coach. “We’re a tight-knit group and whether we win or lose, they’re fun to coach.”
Vidal’s single scored Emma Bergman, who had reached on a fielding error and went to third on a double by Maddy Rathbun. All this came after the Tigers (2-2, 0-2) pulled starting pitcher Emma Elder in favor of Kirsten Hammond.
“Pitching and defense is the name of the game and that came back to hurt us,” Huron coach Jay Clevinger said. “Oak Harbor is a good team, so give them credit.”
Oak Harbor tied the game in the sixth inning after a lead-off double from winning pitcher Ashley Riley. Two batters later Brandy Lochotzki singled to center field. The throw beat Riley home but it was a one-hopper that Huron catcher Jenna Witter couldn’t corral.
“We made a couple mistakes and that hurt us,” Clevinger said.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on three unearned runs in the first inning off of Bergman. Oak Harbor responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning but a single and run-scoring double by Huron’s Alison Litz chased Bergman from the game.
Riley come on in relief and was nearly unhittable. She struck out 12 in 5.2 innings of relief, allowing just two hits while walking two.
“She did an unbelievable job for a freshman,” Rawski said. “She’s come on (in) relief like that three or four times for us. Doing that shows a lot of poise.”
The Rockets got within 4-3 when Chrislyn Stevenson doubled and scored on an error. Huron finished with four errors on the evening and struck out 16 times at the plate.
“We’re not real disciplined at the plate,” Clevinger said. “We’ve been talking all year about looking at that third strike but it comes with experience.”