After getting 10-runned in three of its first four games, it would have been easy for the Hiland Lady Hawks to simply wither away to its march 31 foe, East Canton after falling behind 6-0.
Instead, the Lady Hawks fought back, and put together not one but two huge comebacks, the final one culminating on Brittany Wengerd’ walk-off base hit that gave Hiland (2-3) an improbable 11-10 victory. (video)
Brittany Wengerd with a walk-off base knock and Hiland with comeback 11-10 win over East Canton pic.twitter.com/fE5TAZM8CW
— HolmesCountyTicket (@hcticket) April 1, 2016
This unlikeliest of wins came with several key moments, moments that head coach Ellie Beam hopes will help her team mature and gain confidence.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but after our mistakes we didn’t give up,” said Beam. “That is the biggest difference I see in this group compared to last year.”
This game had so many huge implications for the young Lady Hawks squad. It was their first home game, their first Inter-Valley Conference game and from a sheer confidence standpoint, it couldn’t have meant any more.
“This was big for us in so many ways,” said Beam.
East Canton had scored once in each of the firs two innings, before three hits, an error and a walk led to a four-run third that put Hiland down 6-0.
The wheels could have fallen off, but instead, the young Lady Hawks took advantage of some East Canton miscues to get back to even.
Cheyanne Schrock walked to start the inning, and Brittany Wengerd roped a liner to third for the first out. Hailey Schrock, Megan Kandel and Ashley Weaver then produced three straight singles to make it 6-3. Hannah Gerber’s bases loaded walk and a wild pitch made it 6-4. Then chaos ensued. Erin Weaver struck out, but the ball got away from catcher Alexis Fogle. Fogle picked up the ball as Weaver raced toward first base. In hot pursuit, Fogle dove and tagged Weaver on the leg 15 feet from first base. However, East Canton failed to cover home, and Weaver slid in to score before pitcher Madison Harris could get to the plate. However, Fogle’s throw zipped passed Harris, allowing Gerber to scamper home to tie the score.
“That was pretty wild,” said Beam of the play.
Hiland had new life, but east Canton came in and scored immediately on back-to-back double by Katelyn Kennedy and Lexi Betz. It could have been much worse, but a heads-up play by Wengerd at third base eliminated a runner, and East Canton left the bases loaded.
Hiland then came in and took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from Gerber and an RBI groundout from Erin Weaver. (video)
Erin Weaver's grounder to the mound scores Hannah Gerber to give Hiland an 8-7 lead in the fifth over East Canton pic.twitter.com/2nUrDvtYo1
— HolmesCountyTicket (@hcticket) March 31, 2016
The scorer remained that way until the top of the seventh, when Hiland got to within one out of putting the game away.
With Wengerd on in relief of Schrock, East Canton had a routine fly out and a groundout and was down to its final out. But Fogle and Zoe Salyers singled and Kennedy ripped a shot into left to score the game and put runners on second and third. Betz then lifted a high blooper into no-man’s land in right-center to score to and give East Canton a 10-8 edge.
Again the Lady Hawks would have to fight back. Again, they showed good character in doing so.
Megan Kandel began the inning by fouling off three full count pitches before lining a single to left. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, and after Ashley weaver struck out, Hannah Gerber worked the count to full and drew a walk. Erin Weaver did the same thing, loading the bases. Amber Yoder then lifted a shallow fly to center for the second out.
That brought freshman Brittany Troyer to the plate for an at bat that she won’t soon forget. The freshman, who had entered the game late as a replacement, got to 1-2 in the count and fouled off three straight offerings before lifting a soft liner to right. (video) That brought Kandel in, and Gerber scampered around third and narrowly beat the throw to the plate to tie the game up.
Brittany Troyer delivers a game-tying two out 2run single in bottom of 7th vs East Canton pic.twitter.com/NF7jsFEkUi
— HolmesCountyTicket (@hcticket) March 31, 2016
“What an unbelievable at bat for Brittany Troyer” said Beam of the freshman outfielder. “She had a great catch in the top of the inning, and to come off the bench and step in and ballet like she did and deliver that clutch hit, she really stepped up big for us.”
“This is my first really good hit this season, and I haven’t ever done anything like this before,” said Troyer. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
That set the table for Wengerd to finish off the spectacular comeback win. She took a pitch before lining a sharp single up the middle. Oddly enough, it took everyone a moment before they realized the game was officially over, even as Troyer scrambled back to the bag at third, diving in ahead of a tag that simply wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Wengerd had hit the ball on the nose all night long, and had little to show for it aside from a bunch of loud outs. However, this time, her shot to center found wide-open space, creating a jubilant scene.
“It seemed like everything I hit tonight went right at someone,” said Wengerd. “I just knew I had to keep hitting the ball hard, and something would eventually happen. That’s what happens when you make solid contact. Sooner or later it has to fall in there.”
Kandel went 3-for-3 on the night, scoring three runs, while Hannah Gerber reached twice via walks and added a single and scored three times.
“We couldn’t ask for a better kid to have up there in that situation,” said Beam of Wengerd. “These kinds of games are so fun, but I’d prefer not to have a heart attack any time soon with finishes like these.”
Although, no matter how much stress a game like this can produce, Beam and her Lady Hawks will gladly take as many of them as they can if the result is a celebration like they had after the sweet comeback victory.