A ‘How’-to guide: Emma’s 4 RBIs in 6th finishes off Lady Z win over Lewis Cass
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
All the bunting practice the host Rochester softball team did in preparation for their game against sectional rival Lewis Cass at Fansler Park April 21 paid off.
For the rest, they relied on Emma Howdeshell.
Howdeshell went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and two runs scored, and Kylie Coleman, Sydney Haughs, Kallie Watson, Mia Howdeshell and Darah Strasser added two hits each as the Lady Zs pulled away for a 15-5 win in six innings.
Rochester led 8-5 going into the bottom of the sixth before scoring seven times to end it. Emma Howdeshell had both a two-run homer and game-ending two-run double in that inning.
Rochester had 15 hits but also took advantage of two sacrifice bunts on which Lewis Cass committed errors.
“Our second time though we made the adjustment bunting the ball,” Rochester coach Jim Coleman said. “It’s something that we’ve been really focused on since the Logansport game (a 13-3 loss in six innings on April 12) is getting the bunt down, and that really ignited our offense. We had a couple key bunts there in the third inning that really kind of opened the door for us offensively and allowed us to see the ball a lot better, and we drove the ball a lot better after that point.”
Mia Howdeshell pitched a five-hitter. Two of the five hits were homers, including Hannah Zamora’s solo shot in the fifth and Kami Silcox’s three-run blast in the sixth. She walked two, hit two batters and struck out four.
“They started hitting me more,” Mia Howdeshell said. “I started throwing more off-speed pitches. My first three pitches were all fastballs. After that, I wasn’t throwing as many fastballs. They don’t hit those as much, my fastballs.”
Rochester scored four runs in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. The rally started with three straight one-out singles, the last a liner to center from Maddi Heinzmann to score Sydney Haughs.
Then came the first of the bunts, courtesy of Mia Howdeshell. The Lewis Cass second baseman raced over to cover first but dropped the ball.
Kallie Watson went to third on the sacrifice and scored on the error, and Heinzmann wound up on third.
Darah Strasser legged out an infield single to score Heinzmann to make it 4-1. Mia Howdeshell would later get in a rundown between third and home after a snap throw by the catcher, but the catcher would drop the ball at the plate as Mia Howdeshell slid home headfirst into the catcher to make it 5-1.
“I slid at home, and the catcher was blocking the plate, and it scraped my arm,” Mia Howdeshell said. “Everyone was acting like I broke my arm or something. A little blood won’t hurt. Slap some dirt on it.”
Zamora’s long ball made it 5-2, but the second big bunt, which came off Watson’s bat, came in the bottom of the fifth with runners on second and third.
Lewis Cass pitcher Amma Fitzhugh raced in Watson’s bunt but double-clutched because no one was covering first base. When she finally threw to first, the second baseman was late to cover and the throw sailed into the outfield.
Watson was given credit for a sacrifice and an RBI to bring home Coleman, and Haughs also scored on the error to make it 7-2. Watson later scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-2.
Lewis Cass recovered those three runs on Silcox’s homer the next half-inning.
But Rochester finally finished off the Lady Kings and reliever Kelcee Fowler in the sixth.
Emma Howdeshell’s two-run homer followed Strasser’s leadoff single and made it 10-5.
Haughs and Watson had back-to-back RBI doubles to make it 12-5. Watson would later score on a wild pitch.
Emma Howdeshell ripped a double to deep left on the first pitch of her second at-bat of the inning to score Keyton Doran and Mylee Heinzmann and end the game.
“Emm popped up twice there, and everybody was looking around like, ‘What’s wrong with Emm?’” Coleman said. “I honestly think she was just overaggressive. She was wanting to swing and hit so much that she just got out early. But Emma has just been so solid for us. She keyed that last inning, the home run and then finished the game off with a two-run double. She’s been seeing it so well in practice and also in games.
“She really makes us tick.”
Rochester 15, Lewis Cass 5
Lewis Cass 001 013 – 5 5 4
Rochester 100 437 – 15 15 1
WP – Mia Howdeshell (6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 4 K)
LP – Amma Fitzhugh (4 ⅔ IP, 8 H, 8 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)
2B – Emma Howdeshell (RHS), Sydney Haughs (RHS), Kallie Watson (RHS), Mylee Heinzmann (RHS)
HR – Kami Silcox (LC), Hannah Zamora (LC), Emma Howdeshell (RHS)
Smith’s go-ahead RBI single in 7th highlights Valley win over Rochester
Bussard Ks 10 in circle as Lady Vikes rebound from doubleheader loss
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Madi Smith felt the nerves in the batter’s box.
Her Tippecanoe Valley softball team was tied with archrival Rochester in the seventh inning at Fansler Park on April 24. This was the same Rochester team that knocked Valley out of last year’s sectional.
If she looked down at third base, she would see Kylie Coleman, her friend and future college teammate and roommate at Anderson University.
If she looked at the circle, she would see Mia Howdeshell, the pitcher that shut down her team to win a nine-inning marathon in that sectional game.
Her team needed a lift after losing both games in a home doubleheader against Adams Central on Saturday.
For Smith, this memory will be a much happier one.
She drove a line single to left to bring home Dalynne Bussard with the game-winning run as Valley went on to win 6-4.
“Oh my gosh, I was so nervous up there,” Smith said. “Like OK, so I knew I needed to back off the plate to hit the inside pitch because that’s the one thing they always kept getting me on, so I finally backed off the plate and fouled a few off, and then I finally got it, and I just felt so relieved. I was like I got it when needed it, and the team needed it. I’m so happy. It was good.”
Smith advanced to second on the throw home to try and get Bussard, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Mackaylie Costello’s RBI single in the hole between shortstop and third base that capped off a three-run seventh for the Lady Vikings.
Bussard, who pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts, then got Mia Howdeshell to foul out to first, Mylee Heinzmann on a pop-up to second and Darah Strasser on a fly to center to end it. Valley’s freshman ace in the circle retired the final 12 batters of the game. Valley committed five errors in the first four innings, including three miscues in Rochester’s four-run third. But they committed no errors in the final three innings.
“When I was in the circle, every single pitch, I took a deep breath,” Bussard said. “But I couldn’t have done it without my team. They gave all the effort they could, and I’m just proud of everyone.”
Corinna Stiles and Bussard had two hits and two runs scored each for Valley. Molly Moriarty singled and drove in two runs, including the two-out RBI single in the fifth that cut the deficit to 4-3. Abby Bowers also had a hit and scored a run.
Freshmen accounted for all three Rochester hits: Aubrey Miller singled twice, and Mylee Heinzmann had a bunt single to lead off the eventful third.
Miller also had an RBI.
Mia Howdeshell allowed eight hits and six runs in 6 ⅓ innings. She walked three and struck out three.
Stiles started the seventh with a line single to left, and when the ball was booted for an error, Stiles steamed into second. Bussard then hit a grounder to Emma Howdeshell at short. Stiles hustled to third. Emma Howdeshell threw to Coleman at third. Stiles slid so hard that she dislodged the base from its peg.
The home plate umpire moved over to get a look. He called Stiles safe. Valley had runners at first and third with nobody out.
“It was a close play,” Rochester coach Jim Coleman said. “You know, I will take Emma’s decision 10 out of 10 times. We’re obviously trying to cut that run down that was the tying run at the time. It was bang-bang. I think if the base doesn’t pop out of the ground, that call may have been the other way. Because I felt that the tag was there, but with the base popping out, it was hard to call the tag and the runner coming off the base when the base is out of the area. It was a close play, and I don’t fault Emma for that decision.”
Moriarty popped to the pitcher.
Stiles then scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch that bounced barely five feet to the right of Lady Z catcher Kallie Watson. That tied the game and moved Bussard to second.
Smith then smoked her clutch hit after fouling off a pair of 3-2 pitches. She pumped her arms after she arrived at second.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Valley coach Marc Green said when asked if he wants Smith up in clutch situations. “It was a great at-bat. She ended up coming up with huge (hit) there, and she’s huge for us. Great senior leader for us and great hit. The way these kids fought being down two runs and being down one run going into the last inning, they really fought hard. I’m really, really proud of them.”
Valley took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Bowers led off with a single. One out later, back-to-back hits from Stiles and Bussard loaded the bases.
Moriarty reached on an error to score one run, and Smith walked with the bases loaded to force in another.
But Mia Howdeshell got Costello to line to Coleman, who whipped a throw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Heinzmann bunted for a hit to start the bottom of the third. One out later, Emma Howdeshell walked. Miller then singled home Heinzmann.
Emma Howdeshell and Miller then executed a double steal, and when the throw to try and get Emma Howdeshell at third was wild for an error, Emma Howdeshell got up and scored to tie the game.
Coleman’s fly ball to left was dropped for a two-base error, scoring Miller and when the throw to the plate was wild for an error, Coleman headed to third. And when the throw to try and get Coleman at third was wild for the third error of the inning, Coleman came into score to make it 4-2.
The game marked the final game between coach Coleman and the Valley girls. Coach Coleman had coached Stiles, Moriarty and Smith since their 8-and-under All-Star team called the Purple Crush. That team also included the five Rochester seniors – Emma Howdeshell, Kylie Coleman, Maddi Heinzmann, Watson and Sydney Haughs.
“We play pranks and jokes on each other all the time, and I just really love their family and the atmosphere they have together,” Smith said.
Valley 6, Rochester 4
Valley 002 010 3 – 6 8 5
Rochester 004 000 0 – 4 3 3
WP – Dalynne Bussard (7 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K)
LP – Mia Howdeshell (6 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K)
2B – Dalynne Bussard (TV)