The old saying “it’s never over until it’s over” was in full effect in the NWOAL softball opener between Evergreen and Wauseon on Thursday afternoon at Evergreen.
The Vikings, who were held in check for most of the game by Wauseon pitcher Alisa Shelt who recorded strikeout after strikeout, scored a run in the fifth and then two more in the seventh for a walkoff 3-2 win.
Down 2-1 in the bottom half of the seventh, the Vikings got a one-out single from Becca Jankowiak. A bunt back to the pitcher by Rachael Noe allowed Wauseon to get the lead runner for the second out.
However, Noe stole second base, and Evergreen senior Eden Eisel pounded a single to left for the tying run.
“She has been there 100 times. And my confidence was high that she’ll come through,” said Evergreen coach Todd Momany of Eisel. “She said her heart was beating so fast up there. But, I (had) total confidence in her that she was going to do what she needed to do.”
“She is a heck of a player. She had an 0-2 count, and we didn’t get the ball where we wanted it,” added Wauseon coach Shelly Borton. “We have a freshman in the circle who is still learning. We don’t want a called strike three on that pitch, we want a swinging strike three. So it is just one of those things. And then we didn’t make plays defensively either.”
She would get to third after the ball was misplayed by the Wauseon left fielder, and Mikayla Ball’s pop up to the pitcher was dropped to score Eisel and give the Vikings the victory.
“That’s the sun. It’s the energy of the game – I got to make the play, I got to make the play,” said Borton on the mindset of her pitcher during the final play. “It just is what it is.”
After allowing a run by the Indians in the first inning, the Vikings had numerous chances to dent the scoreboard but could not come through.
In the bottom of the third, Jankowiak got a single with two outs. A single by Noe put a pair of runners on and they both eventually advanced into scoring position.
However, this time Shelt caught Eisel staring at strike three to end the threat.
“We couldn’t figure their pitcher out for the first few innings,” said Momany of Shelt. “She was locating it inside and out – changing speeds. I give her a lot of credit, she is very good.
“But then our girls rallied, and got the energy level up. And the fourth time through the lineup they came through.”
Evergreen tallied a pair of one-out singles and a successful double steal put runners on second and third in their half of the fourth. The Indians, led by Shelt, got consecutive strikeouts to leave the Vikings scoreless.
Wauseon then made it 2-0 in the next half inning thanks to a single and steal of second base by Shelt, and Maddy Martinez’ RBI-single.
For the Vikings, Noe kept the Indians off the board in both the sixth and seventh, striking out the side in the seventh.
“It gave us a lot of energy,” said Momany of Noe’s effort in the seventh. “And she got stronger as the game went on and started hitting her spots.”
Eisel paced the Viking offense as she went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Shelt was 2 for 4 for the Indians.
Although she took the loss in the circle, she struck out 14 and walked just one. Noe got the win for Evergreen.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010