MILFORD The Warriors don’t like to make things easy on their fans or coach Eric Campbell.
In the first playoff game, McNicholas erased Goshen’s 4-0 lead and sent the game into extra innings. The Warriors prevailed with an RBI double. This time around, Northwest erased a 3-0 deficit and even held a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
The Warriors wiggled out of the jam by tying the game and scoring the winning run on an overthrown catcher-pitcher exchange. The 7-6 win secured the Warriors’ first sectional championship in program history.
“She just overthrew it,” Northwest freshman pitcher Alaina Maddy said. “I jumped as high as I could. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any infielders close enough to back it up either.”
After a quick top half of the first, Goshen’s offense wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Shalee Gray doubled to lead off the inning and Ashleigh Campbell singled her in for the first run.
Kelsey Hyden and Annie Gadberry also came around to score for Goshen’s early 3-0 lead. The score stayed that way until the top of the fourth when Northwest took control.
The Knights sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in the frame. Sophomore catcher Jaycie Russell’s two-run single was the big blow in the inning.
“From the get-go, we knew these girls were battlers; we knew they were going to do great things this year,” Northwest coach Debbie Fields said. “They’ve won the most games in a season since 2003. A win would have been the first sectional championship since ’03.”
Goshen’s normally reliable defense also committed some miscues that helped prolong the inning. But fortunately for them, the game didn’t spiral out of control.
“They had opportunities to pile on more runs, but we didn’t allow that to happen,” Campbell said. “We have a solid defense. Bailey Rodgers made a diving catch in left-center field. That could have been extra bases if she hadn’t have made that catch.
“The kids believe in each other, have confidence and feel good about where we are going.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Goshen tied the game.
Campbell walked and moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Hyden brought her around with a single.
Northwest didn’t quit. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Harleigh Warren smacked a single to plate two runs and extend the Knights’ lead to 6-3.
In the bottom half, the Warriors needed resiliency and got it. They tied the game again before eventually scoring on the errant throw.
“We can’t win big, we have to make it tough every time,” Campbell said. “We had opportunities to cave and didn’t. I’m proud of the team’s resiliency.”