- Val T.
North Miami scores 5 in 8th, staves off Rochester comeback bid
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester softball team trailed North Miami 8-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning at Fansler Field April 26.
What might have been an ignominious loss became an inspiring comeback. But what might have been an inspiring comeback turned into an extra-inning loss.
Jerzi Trigg’s tie-breaking RBI single in the top of the eighth put the Class 1A, No. 9 Lady Warriors ahead for good, and they tacked on four more runs in the inning and went on to beat Rochester 13-8.
Allie Smith followed Trigg with a two-run single that scored Jaden Hetzner and Jalin Utter to make it 11-8. Trigg went to third on the hit, and Smith went to second on the throw home. Shyloe Hunt followed with a two-run single to score Trigg and Smith and make it 13-8.
Taylor Tinney had four RBIs for North Miami. Ellie Musselman went 4 for 5, including a double in the fourth and a single as part of the eighth-inning uprising.
But the key might have been Trigg, Smith and Hunt, the bottom three hitters in the North Miami order. Those three went a combined 5 for 12 with seven RBIs.
“This team is a very good hitting team,” North Miami coach Rob Cooley said. “We’ve adjusted. We’ve seen so many different types of pitchers. Early on, we faced Penn and a very, very competitive schedule. They’ve done a very good job of adjusting. Any one of them can get a hit at any time.”
North Miami scored six runs in the third to take a 7-1 lead. Tinney, a senior center fielder, had a three-run double in the inning, and she later scored on an error.
Mya Musselman relieved starter Sydney Haughs for Rochester in the circle with two outs in the third and allowed only one unearned run in her first 4 ⅓ innings.
That gave Rochester the opportunity to catch up, and they did it with six runs in the bottom of the sixth off North Miami sophomore starter Lauren Duncan.
Carlee Blackburn and Chloe Nichols started the inning with back-to-back singles. Emma Goodman grounded out to Reese Hoover at short to move up the runners.
Emma Sells’ RBI single made it 8-3. After an Emma Howdeshell single and a Musselman strike out, Kylie Coleman’s two-out RBI single made it 8-4. Sells scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-5. Haughs then walked to load the bases.
That brought up Maddie Heinzmann, who had struck out in her three previous at-bats against Duncan. There would be no fourth strikeout as Heinzmann lined a two-run single to center to score Howdeshell and Coleman to make it 8-7.
Haughs advanced to third on Heinzmann’s hit. With Blackburn at the plate for the second time in the inning, Heinzmann took off. North Miami catcher Addison Miller threw through, and when her throw didn’t get Heinzmann, Haughs stole home without a play to tie the game.
It was Rochester’s second steal of home. Howdeshell also pilfered home on the front end of a double steal in the first.
After Musselman pitched a scoreless top of the seventh, she had a chance to win it with Goodman on third and Howdeshell on second with two outs in the bottom half. But she grounded out to Ellie Musselman at first base to retire the side.
Howdeshell, Coleman, Goodman and Sells had two hits each for the Lady Zs.
But they fell to 0-2 in the conference with both losses coming in their opponents’ final at-bat.
Rochester coach Becky Lee raved about Musselman’s pitching performance.
“She was a monster on the mound today,” Lee said. “I looked out there to tell her it was her turn, and she gave me a head nod, and her focus was tunnel vision from there.”
Facing Duncan, who handed Class 1A, No. 4 Caston their only loss in her first season as a varsity pitcher, RHS struck out 13 times against her. But they also got 14 hits off her.
Heinzmann’s hit in the sixth symbolized the offensive effort, which came again without Kallie Watson. Watson, RHS’ starting third baseman, has not played since April 14 due to an injury.
“What I like to preach to the girls is to flush every at-bat,” Lee said. “Whether it’s good or it’s bad, we’re just going to focus on the next one. And she was a prime example of doing that. She also did a great job at third base. So I told her whether her bat was there or not, I’m really proud of her for sticking it out at third base and eating up all the balls that came her way.”
Said Cooley of the Lady Zs: “It’s really, really tough to get through that lineup.”
North Miami 13, Rochester 8 (final/8 innings)
North Miami 016 100 05 – 13 13 2
Rochester 101 006 00 – 8 14 5
WP – Lauren Duncan (8 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 13 K)
LP – Mya Musselman (5 ⅓ IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)
2B – Taylor Tinney (NM), Ellie Musselman (NM), Emma Goodman (RHS)
Rochester softball coach Becky Lee consults with pitcher Sydney Haughs and catcher Emma Howdeshell during an April 26 game against North Miami at Fansler Field. North Miami, ranked No. 9 in Class 1A, won 13-8 in eight innings. (photo provided)
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