I thought I’d have a laid-back day today, writing up two softball game stories and having an easy press day tomorrow morning.
Mother Nature had different plans.
However, she left us with two softball games that should come down to the wire today, as the Harrisburg-Silex game will recontinue at 5 p.m. in the top of the sixth inning tied 2-2, while the New Franklin-Brunswick game will pick up at 6 p.m. in the top of the fifth inning with New Franklin trailing 2-1.
Initially, I only planned on attending the Harrisburg game yesterday, but when Steve Combs moved the start time up to 5 p.m., I thought I could have a chance to catch the end of the New Franklin game.
Kimmie Roberts took a line drive off her left ankle from Natalie Fleming in the top of the first inning, the second time in less than a week that she been hit by a line drive. Roberts was able to walk it off, but the Fleming hit started a two-out Silex rally. Lindsey Barnhart doubled to score Fleming and Madison Henke singled to score Barnhart, putting Silex up 2-0 after half-an-inning.
Harrisburg didn’t respond until the third inning, when Alissa Lumb hit a two-out triple to right-center field to score Caitlin Atkins. As it turned out, Lumb was only getting started.
With extremely dark clouds hovering in the distance beyond the right-field fence in the fifth inning, Harrisburg was up to bat with nobody on and two outs. Bobbi Mathews slapped a single over the shortstop’s head and Lumb hit another triple to right-center — the exact same spot where she hit the ball two innings earlier — to score Mathews and tie the game at 2-2. Chelsey Kroese grounded out to end the inning, but tying the game became extremely important.
Just as Harrisburg took the field for the sixth inning, lightning was spotted in the area and the players were forced to clear the field by the umpire. The rain came a minute later and after 10 minutes of rain, a moat was formed around the infield, forcing officials to suspend the game. So why was it so important for Mathews to score the tying run?
Even though it is a state playoff game, unlike Major League Baseball, it’s not required for a game to be played from start to finish despite rain. A regulation game must go five innings, or just 4-1/2 if the home team is winning. As a result, if Harrisburg hit into a third out before Mathews had scored, the game would have ended with a 2-1 Silex rain-shortened win.
However, this can be spun around the other way as well. Let’s say the next Harrisburg batter, Kassi Blakemore, singled and scored Kroese, then Kelsey Vineyard got out to end the inning and the rain hit, Harrisburg would have won a 3-2 rain-shortened win.
Instead, we’re going with a 2-2 tie, starting in the top of the sixth with Silex’s No. 5 batter, Madison Henke, leading off.
The game was suspended at 6:20 p.m., so I called my boss to see how the New Franklin game was going. He said it hadn’t started yet because of a rain delay, so I made the trip over to New Franklin, hoping to catch one full game at least.
I got there in the bottom of the second inning, with Brunswick up 1-0. The Lady Wildcats took advantage of a New Franklin error and score their second run on a fielder’s choice. Kalani Pihana fielded a ground ball perfectly, but the throw home was too late and Brunswick led 2-0.
In each of the first three innings, New Franklin stranded two runners on base and added one more LOB in the fourth. However, the fifth inning would provide plenty of drama to hold over fans for 22 hours.
With lightning in the area, players were called off the field before the fifth inning started. However, when no other dangerous lightning was spotted, play resumed five minutes later. The lightning strike, while big, wasn’t close enough to the area to call for a minimum 30-minute delay.
Kallie Monteer drew a leadoff, four-pitch walk and Emily Hendrix walked, putting two runners on yet again with one out. Megan Phillips lined a single to left-center scoring Monteer, but the left fielder mishandled the ball, allowing runners to advance to second and third on an error. Sara Montgomery, the next batter, took one pitch, but lightning re-entered the area and forced another stoppage. This time, rain began to fall and after waiting around for 15 minutes, the game was suspended until today.
Now going back to the rain-shorten rule. This game has to be completed because it didn’t meet the minimum requirements, still short of playing 4-1/2 innings. It will pick up exactly where it left off, with Phillips at second base, Rox’e Hendrix (courtesy running for Emily Hendrix) at third base and Sara Montgomery up to bat, I believe with a 1-0 count.
With this situation, there are several thoughts running through Ross Dowell’s head on what to do to make sure they get the tying run in. He’ll have 22 hours to think about it. I just hope he doesn’t overthink it. Just take it easy today, Ross.
So what I thought would be a free evening has turned into a drama-packed night. I’ll try a repeat of last night, going to Harrisburg a 5 p.m. for the conclusion of that game, then once it’s over, drive to New Franklin for the end of that game.
I gotta wonder how the back-and-forth two-hour bus ride will affect Silex. Obviously it wasn’t a problem yesterday because they scored twice in the first inning, but Harrisburg should have the momentum going into today’s finish.
As for New Franklin, they’re heading toward the bottom of the batting order, so it’s extremely crucial to score at least one of these runs.
Either way, all four teams know who they’ll play Saturday entering today’s finishes. The winner of the Harrisburg-Silex game will play Bevier, who beat Brashear 6-5 last night. The winner of the New Franklin-Brunswick game will play undefeated (24-0) Norborne, who beat the Montrose/Appleton City co-op 4-1 last night.