By Travis Smola
The 32-2-1 Vicksburg varsity softball team dropped only its second game of the season in a thriller of a split against rival Edwardsburg at home.
The first game of the doubleheader looked like it was over early as the Eddies’ bats were blazing hot in the top of the second. A grand slam home run was quickly followed by a solo homer, and then a three-run homer to make it 10-0 early in Edwardsburg’s favor. Most teams would have given up in this scenario, but according to Head Coach Paul Gephart, that’s just not how this year’s squad is built.
“They just always battle back,” Gephart said. “They always believe there’s a way they can come back and win, and they showed it in that first game.”
The Bulldogs started off the bottom of the second with a couple of walks and then a single by Kayla Chisholm to load the bases. Delaney Monroe scored from third on an Edwardsburg error to prevent the shutout and then Kennedy Davis popped out but brought Peyton Smith home to make it 10-2.
Edwardsburg responded in the top of the third with a solo home run to make it 11-2, but the Vicksburg defense kept grinding and prevented any more runs. In the bottom of the third, Brooklyn Ringler got a base hit when Monroe stepped up and smashed a homerun over the center field fence to make the score 11-4.
Vicksburg managed to take advantage of two errors by the Eddies in the bottom of the fourth to advance runners. Some heads-up play and hard base running by Monroe and Maddi Diekman made things 11-6. In the bottom of the fifth, Chisholm smacked a big solo home run over the fence to close the gap to four.
In the bottom of the sixth, the girls really poured it on. After an early walk by Diekman, Ella Luegge laid out a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to second. Ringler stepped up and hit a big double RBI to make it 11-8. Monroe batted next, hitting another double.
During some miscommunication by the Eddies’ defense, Luegge made a diving slide at home and was called safe to make it 11-9 with one on and one out. Peyton Smith then hit another double RBI to make the score 11-10. Unfortunately, Smith ended up stranded, and the girls couldn’t get any more runs in the seventh to complete the comeback.
“It shows a lot of character, and a lot of mental strength for us to fight and come back, and we actually maybe had a chance to win in that last inning,” Gephart said.
The Bulldogs took the momentum of the first game and turned it into a rout in the second. Luegge and Smith both had base hits to drive home runners to make it 2-0 early. Defensively the team showed up too. Monroe had a nice catch and throw to first double play in the top of the second. Vicksburg then scored two more runs in the bottom of the second to make it 4-0.
Edwardsburg hit two solo home runs in the top of the third to make it 4-3, but from there senior pitcher Kennedy Davis and the outfield shut down the Eddies’ efforts. The girls scored eight more runs in the bottom of the third to make it 12-3. The team scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after advancing runners on a combination of great batting and Edwardsburg errors.
The Bulldogs put all the pressure on Edwardsburg in the top of the fifth after an excellent catch and throw double play from Diekman to start things out. When the Eddies failed to score, the game was mercy called.
“Some of those double plays are huge, that takes people out of scoring position,” Gephart said. “We ran the bases hard this second game and they made some errant throws.”
The loss against Edwardsburg was only their second of the season. The first came in tournament play earlier in the year against Watervliet. Otherwise, it’s been a dominant, high scoring season, with the team cracking off 44 home runs. The Bulldogs are in great position going into the last part of the season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these young ladies to come out fired up to get that second one, and score 14 runs and mercy a good team like that,” Gephart said. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the districts after the games we have next week, and just keep building on the momentum we’ve had all season.”
By Travis Smola