Softball Walks Off In 12th Inning With Sectional Championship

Posted on May 24, 2019 in Softball, Spring Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
CONVERSE — Oak Hill let opportunity after opportunity slip Thursday night before Kaela Robey came through and delivered the Golden Eagles their second IHSAA sectional softball championship.

Robey hit a ball just over the third baseman’s head in the 12th inning that brought home Abby Shaw with the winning run in the Eagles’ 9-8 victory over visiting Whitko. Shaw beat out an infield single and Jenessa Hasty punched a hit through the first and second base hole to set the stage for Robey’s walk-off hit.

“My thinking was see the ball and hit it,” Robey said on her approach. “I just wanted to get a base hit and get on base and score a run, whatever I can do. Just hit the ball and move somebody.”

Oak Hill (20-6) won its only previous sectional title in 2014 and now advances to play at Southmont (14-12) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a one game regional. Whitko, which finished 13-8, had won Class 2A sectional and regional titles the previous two years and was a final four team in 2017.

“Just little small hits,” Hasty said of the Eagles’ 17-hit attack. “It was just through the gaps or even just hitting it hard so they would have to make a good play on it.”

Hasty did hit the ball the farthest, a solo home run leading off the fifth inning and give the Eagles a 7-5 lead. Later in the inning Kaleigh Hollars’ single scored Ashlyn Transier, who had walked, for an 8-5 advantage.

The Eagles once held a 6-2 lead, striking for three runs each in the first and third, but Whitko also had a pair of three-run frames in the fifth and sixth to draw even at 8-all. It would take another six innings where both teams came off the ropes before the game could be decided.

“We had adversity but we slammed it down,” Robey said. “It was a hard-fought battle and they are a great team. We came in here knowing it would be a good game, but we like it tough. It feels better when you win a real hard-fought game.”

Whitko could have won the game in the eighth with runners on second and third base with one out. Augusta Garr struck out, although Eagles catcher Lori Miller dropped the third strike and had to throw to first base to complete the out. Emalee Duggins attempted to score from third on Miller’s throw, but she was caught in a rundown and tagged out at home plate.

In the 11th, Whikto again had runners on second and third with one out, but Eagles pitcher Julianne Gosnell induced a ground out and soft line out to Hasty at shortstop to end the threat. And in the 12th, Oak Hill’s defense went to work again with a double play as Transier caught a ball and made a relay throw to Hasty and double off the baserunner at second base.

Oak Hill had the lead run on third base in the seventh with two outs, but pinch hitter Mariah Camden grounded out to second base for the third out. It was also significant because Camden was batting for starting pitcher Bayli Toy for the second time, meaning Toy could not re-enter the game.

“Camden pinch-hitting has walked or gotten a base hit in seven out of nine at bats and we had to roll the dice,” Oak Hill coach Ben Johnson explained. “I know how explosive they are offensively and they’ve been doing it all year and for three straight years. I had to take my chance. Mariah had a good at bat and it just didn’t end way I wanted.”

Hasty singled with two outs in the 10th and advanced to third when Whitko’s left fielder dropped a fly ball hit by Robey. Korinne Perkins, who had driven in three runs, then popped up to Whitko’s shortstop to end the inning. Transier made it to second base in the 11th with one out but was stranded there.

“We battled back and we knew they were not going to give up and they would keep fighting and fighting and fighting,” Hasty said. “And that’s what we were going to do. We would always have the last at bats and decided hey, let’s go! We got another at bat every time and we just kept pushing away.”

Toy has been Oak Hill’s No. 1 pitcher this season and received early run support, but she departed with two outs in the fifth after Whitko pulled to within 6-5. Whitko threatened for more but had a runner thrown out at third base attempting to steal for the third out.

Gosnell was in the circle when Whitko tied it 8-all in the sixth and Toy returned to pitch the seventh before she departed for good. Gosnell in her second stint pitched five scoreless innings and gave up seven hits with two strikeouts.

Robey also delivered a RBI single in the first and doubled in the third. Perkins brought in a run on a ground out in the first and also singled in the seventh for her second hit. Hasty had three singles in addition to her homer and Hollars had two hits.

Duggins, Whitko’s leadoff hitter, wasn’t retired in seven plate appearances, collecting four hits and drawing three walks, and she scored three runs.

“We talked before the game and pointed to what’s on the back of our T-shirts,” Johnson said. “‘Little decisions, little plays are going to have a big impact’ and we made a few errors but we didn’t let it effect us because as soon as you drop your head against a great team like Whitko that’s when the avalanche starts.

“My girls kept their heads up after a couple errors and walks and they kept battling back and to me that was the difference in the game,” he added. “We were mentally tough.”

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