Back in 1980, the Cleveland Browns put together a season full of late game heroics. They are forever known as the Kardiac Kids.
Six games into the 2017 season, the town of Sugarcreek is beginning to see their own version of heart-stopping drama. Six games, six wins; each game coming down to the final inning.
Four-year starter and Walsh University signee Hannah Halstead summed it up this way.
“I think the biggest thing is we have never given up,” Halstead said of the big start. “I have always believed that if we have a team where everyone got along and no one got down on themselves, we would be incredibly successful. It all comes down to helping each other in the hard times.”
So far that formula has worked for the Lady Pirates.
Down 3-1 and heading into the seventh inning against Sandy Valley, the team that ended Garaway’s 2016 season, the Lady Pirates were just getting started.
Senior Amber Monigold stepped to the plate to open the seventh, and set the tone for a huge comeback.
“I knew I had to get on and start something up for the team if we wanted to get the game back in our control,” Monigold said. Monigold lined a single to right field to start the inning off. “It felt great to make solid contact and get on base, knowing I had the rest of the lineup to follow me,” Monigold added.
After a fly out to left field by Madeline Smith, Zoe Johnson dropped a double into center field, putting runners on second and third with one out.
“The bottom of the order did their job. We needed to get back to the top of the order to have any chance at a win,” head coach Dennis Koshmider said.
Lead-off hitter Chelsi Rothacher entered the batter’s box. “When I was in the on deck circle, I was dreaming of hitting a gap shot to tie the game” Rothacher said. “Zoe got on and I came to bat. I knew I couldn’t leave them stranded out there.” Rothacher worked the count full against Sandy Valley’s ace pitcher Makayla Loveless. With the game on the line, Rothacher’s dream came true as she smoked a line drive double down the left field line to score Monigold and Johnson.
The Lady Pirates had drawn even at 3-3, but they were far from done.
Halstead, who had doubled in the Lady Pirates’ first run back in the fifth inning, stepped in against Loveless. “After my RBI in the fifth inning, I knew it was still possible to win,” Halstead said. “We still had a chance. I kept trying to get my team pumped up and make sure we weren’t down. We had come back to beat them before and I knew we could do it again.” Halstead singled to put runners on the corners. After a steal at second base, the Lady Pirates were suddenly one swing away from taking control of the game.
Allison Luneborg, who had been robbed of a potential RBI double in her previous at bat, came to the plate. Luneborg hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Alyssa Sines. Sines looked Rothacher back at third, then fired to first to retire Luneborg.
Down to their last out, the Lady Pirates turned to another senior, Kaitlyn Stress.
Facing a full count, Stress hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to second base. The ball bounced off the glove of the Cardinal second baseman, allowing Stress to beat the throw to first and Rothacher scored on the play. During the same sequence, Halstead also managed to score thanks to an errant Sandy Valley throw, while Stress moved over to second base.
Garaway was now up 5-3.
After a brief Cardinal conference in the pitching circle, Kassidy Reidenbach sent the ensuing pitch down the right field line for an RBI single. Reidenbach moved to second on the throw home., and up stepped Sierra Slentz, who laced a single to right field plating Reidenbach. Sandy Valley finally put an end to the rally when the Lady Pirate who started it all, Amber Monigold, hit a comebacker up the middle to Loveless.
The Lady Pirates had batted through the order for a commanding 7-3 lead, and a boisterous home side of the field had been hushed.
Garaway pitcher Kassidy Reidenbach worked through an error and a hit to finish off the Cardinals in the seventh. Reidenbach improves to 3-0 for the season, and after getting hit hard in the second and third innings, she had settled in and was able to hold a strong Cardinal lineup scoreless over the final four innings.
Sandy Valley scored twice in the second inning. Arianna Ott lined a single to left field. Mandi Williams followed with a double. Kayla Campbell ignited the Cardinal crowd with a two-RBI single. With no outs, Reidenbach managed to work out of the inning without further damage.
Sandy Valley added to the lead in the third inning. Meg Otte singled and scored on a triple by Loveless.
Garaway put their first run of the game on the board in the fifth inning. Madeline Smith reached on an error and later scored on a double by Halstead.