OAKLEAF – Friday night lights excitement typically means football season except for an extra innings extravaganza at the Oakleaf High softball complex that saw the resurgent Lady Knights return to …
OAKLEAF – Friday night lights excitement typically means football season except for an extra innings extravaganza at the Oakleaf High softball complex that saw the resurgent Lady Knights return to overwhelming firepower in taking an undefeated season away from visiting Mandarin High School via a 4-3 victory.
“We knew they were going to be a very good, well coached team with some great athletes,” said Knights Head Coach Christina Thompson, who had earlier in the week put down the lone team to beat the Knights; Atlantic Coast. “Coming into this game, their pitcher had like a .88 ERA, just exceptional so we knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Scoreless for the first half of the game with pitcher Cambria Arturo going toe-to-toe with Mandarin’s rapid fire hurler Ashley Wiebenga (10-1, 96 strikeouts), Oakleaf finally lassoed the Mustangs with a run in the fourth inning, only to have Mandarin come back stronger in the fifth and sixth, putting the Knights down 3-1.
For three innings, both teams could do no better than a single runner on. In the bottom of the fourth, Baylee Goddard used a Mustang error to get onboard. On the first pitch to Jaycie Brookshire, Goddard took off like a bolt of lightening and was sitting on second. Brookshire drove the ball deep center for an out, moving Goddard to third after tagging up. Kaylee Lambrecht hit a grounder to third base who made the play to first and Goddard crossed the plate to put Oakleaf up, 1-0.
When the Mustangs came up, with two runners on and only one out, a ground ball to Goddard at third base was played to home for the second out and stopping another score. With two outs, a fly ball to left, and an error at second base brought the score to 2-1, Mandarin.
After Oakleaf went three up, three out, Mandarin scored another run on an error when the ball dropped with several players not calling for it. The inning retired with Mandarin stopped at 3-1. Back in the office, it was wake up time as Coach Thompson delivered a motivation speech to the players which paid huge dividends.
“I’m passionate, but I don’t yell, but every now and then, they push me too far and I got to give it to them,” said Thompson, who hosts Clay on Tues., April 2, then heads to the uber-tough Kissimmee Klassic for some more high-powered competition with the Knights opening Thursday with Lake Region. “They got it tonight because we just weren’t awake on some plays. Cambria (Arturo) did an awesome job and there were three hits that should not have been hits.”
The girls snapped out of the funk and came alive. In the bottom of the sixth, Oakleaf got Jaeda McFarland on with a double to left field. Goddard followed right behind her in left field to add another Knight score, 3-2.
With only three outs to play, Aspen Windesheim used a huge gap in right field to earn a standup double, moving to third base on a sacrifice bunt with one out. A passed ball was all Windesheim needed to take her shot, slid into home and tied the game, 3-3.
With new life in the top of the eighth inning, the Knights again play shut down defense with Arturo striking out the first two batters, then ending the inning with a ground out to second.
In the bottom of the eighth, McFarland singled on a surprise bunt on the first pitch. The Mustangs were frozen for a second, long enough for McFarland to be safely onboard. Next up was Goddard who gladly accepted an intentional walk after McFarland stole second on the first pitch. McFarland tagged up and made it to third when Jaycie Brookshire hit a deep fly to right field. Goddard stayed put. On the first pitch to Caitlynne Lamug, Goddard shot over to second base as the crowd erupted. On a missed bunt attempt, McFarland was caught stealing home for the second out. With Goddard still sitting on second and Lamug getting walked, Aspen Windesheim stepped into the batter’s box and sent the first pitch into the gap through second base. The grounder was deep enough for Goddard to round third and cross the plate standing, ending the game 4-3 in an extra inning.