Lady Zs win on walk-off error, stay in TRC title hunt
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Kylie Coleman scored on an error in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Rochester softball team a 5-4 win over Peru at Fansler Field Monday.
Rochester trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the sixth but scored once in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pull out the win.
Rochester has won 10 of their last 11 games to improve to 13-4 overall and 7-1 in the Three Rivers Conference. Peru fell to 5-11, 4-4.
Emma Howdeshell earned the win in relief with three innings of scoreless relief.
Jaylah Harlan took the loss for Peru. She returned to the circle after a hard collision with Howdeshell at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, tagging Howdeshell out as she tried to score on a passed ball. All five runs she allowed were unearned.
Peru committed six errors while Rochester committed none.
Using a wicked curve and a well-placed rise ball, Harlan held a Lady Z team that came in with a .431 team batting average to just four hits while striking out 14.
“It was a good one for us,” Rochester first-year coach Jim Coleman said. “It was one where we weren’t at our best. Mia (Howdeshell) was out of sorts today in the circle. We were down early, came back, got down again. You know, the big thing for us is our girls kept fighting. Like I told them, this win will go a long way for the rest of this season and going into postseason play next Monday.
“I thought we fought and really battled. And credit Peru. They came, and they gave us everything we would have wanted. They were well prepared, and Harlan did a great job in the circle.”
The win keeps Rochester alive in the TRC title race. In other games Monday, North Miami blanked Wabash 10-0 in five innings and Tippecanoe Valley topped Northfield 12-1 in six innings.
North Miami is 7-0 in the TRC, and Valley is 6-1.
Valley’s game with Maconaquah scheduled for Tuesday was canceled due to lack of numbers at Maconaquah. Valley will host Manchester on Wednesday.
North Miami will host Northfield Tuesday and travel to Rochester Wednesday.
Emma Howdeshell led off the bottom of the eighth with a single in a 4-4 game. Aubrey Miller singled just inside the third baseline, and Howdeshell flew into third with a headfirst slide. Miller went to second on the throw.
Peru coach Michael Gapski elected to walk Coleman to load the bases.
Catcher Emily Ream then threw out Howdeshell at the plate trying to score on a ball that glanced off her glove with Harlan taking the throw.
After a brief delay while Harlan received medical attention, she returned to the circle, and Gapski elected to intentionally walk Sydney Haughs to load the bases again.
Kallie Watson then bunted, but Harlan pounced and flipped to Ream at the plate for a forceout.
Maddi Heinzmann, who was one of only two Rochester players not to strikeout against Harlan, then hit a grounder to shortstop. The ball was booted, and a throw to get a forceout at third base was late to end the game.
“It feels great,” Howdeshell said. “The energy was there today, and it’s the highlight of my season honestly. It’s going to be what I say on senior night.”
Rochester fell behind 4-2 in the fifth on Ream’s two-run single.
They got one run back in the sixth. Howdeshell lofted a fly to deep left field that was dropped for a two-base error. Howdeshell then stole third, and when the throw went into left field for an error, Howdeshell got up and scored.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Heinzmann reached first on an error. She tried for second and was tagged out but was awarded first base as the base umpire called the Peru first baseman for obstruction.
Mia Howdeshell then lined a single to right, moving Heinzmann to third.
Heinzmann and Mia Howdeshell then pulled off a double steal. The throw from Ream went through and was cut off, but it was too late to catch Heinzmann stealing home.
The game was tied.
Emma Howdeshell, who relieved Mia Howdeshell in the circle with a runner on first and nobyd out in the sixth, retired Peru in order in the top of the eighth, getting Lilly Steele on a fly to center, Harlan on a grounder to third and Owens on a grounder to catcher Kallie Watson, who picked up the ball just in front of the plate and tagged Owens out.
Peru took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on RBI singles by Alilyanah Johnson and Ream.
Rochester answered with two in the bottom of the third.
With Mylee Heinzmann on second and two outs, Gapski elected to intentionally walk Emma Howdeshell, who came in with a .727 batting average.
Miller then dribbled a single to center to score Mylee Heinzmann, and when the ball was bobbled in center field for an error, Emma Howdeshell also scored.
Peru threatened to take the lead in the fourth when Molly Mann tried to score from first on Steele’s double to left-center field, but center fielder Darah Strasser hit cutoff player Emma Howdeshell who then threw to a waiting Watson at the plate to tag Mann.
“We practice it quite often in practice,” a laughing Emma Howdeshell said. “She was a dead woman running. That’s what the umpire said to me.”
This marked Rochester’s first win in an extra-inning game since a 6-3 win in nine innings over Tippecanoe Valley in last year’s sectional quarterfinal.
Rochester 5, Peru 4 (8 innings)
Peru 002 020 00 – 4 9 6
Rochester 002 001 11 – 5 3 0
WP – Emma Howdeshell (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)
LP – Jaylah Harlan (7 ⅔ IP, 3 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K)
2B – Emily Ream (PERU), Lilly Steele (PERU), Alilyanah Johnson (PERU)