ATHENA — When the Echo and Weston-McEwen softball squads met in Echo last month, the doubleheader produced a pair of one-run games both decided in the last atbat.
That template held true when the teams moved the setting to Athena on Tuesday, but this time it was the TigerScots walking off.
A bases-loaded wild pitch allowed Keegan Shepard to score the deciding run in a 7-6 victory. The win avenged losses of 7-6 and 4-3 from April 14. Those games ended in 10 and eight innings, respectively.
The outcome does nothing to shift the Special District 5 standings, where Echo (14-5, 6-3 SD5) sits in second with room ahead of third-place Weston-McEwen (8-6, 3-4 SD5). But despite the records, the most recent final score will likely shake up the state RPI rankings for Class 2A/1A softball, moving the TigerScots to second ahead of Echo’s third.
Weston-McEwen only scored in response to Echo runs Tuesday, matching the Cougars in all four innings that they upped their tally and adding one extra along the way.
In the sixth inning, TigerScots starting pitcher Molly von Borstel was relieved with her team up 5-4. After three straight batters reached base against the bullpen, though, von Borstel was called upon to come back and finish the inning.
Inheriting a bases loaded situation with no outs is a meaty order for a pitcher, especially one who’s resigned from the circle already once in the game.
“The bases were loaded and we needed to get out of it quick,” von Borstel said.
Sterling Braithwaite struck a ball to the shortstop, just slow enough that Mickie Kowalski had a chance to beat the throw to home from third base. But just as Weston-McEwen’s Rilei Hill was cocking back her arm to launch, the runner from second bowled her over.
The runner was called out for interference on the play and Kowalski returned to third.
“I figured that she would have been smart enough to see me because as the base runner you’re supposed to go behind the play,” said Hill, who took a few moments before returning to her feet following the play.
Von Borstel caught the next batter looking for strike three, but couldn’t escape the jam. Bailey reached on an error that pushed in the tying run.
Natalie Arnold led off the bottom of the sixth for Weston-McEwen with her third double of the game. Taylor Entze then picked up her second RBI with a bases loaded walk to regain the lead 6-5.
But to allow for Shepard’s game-winning run, Echo needed to score in the top of the seventh. Emma Gabriel hit her second single of the day before taking second on an error and moving around to third base on a ground out.
When von Borstel let one get away from her in the dirt, Gabriel went streaking for home on the wild pitch. Von Borstel tried to cover the plate and apply the tag, but a gutsy face-first penguin lunge by the pitcher resulted in the second base-path collision of the game.
Gabriel’s run re-tied things as her spikes lodged in von Borstel’s non-throwing right arm. The deep cut had to wait until after the game, though as she retired the side with a double play.
“I couldn’t really lift my arm up,” said von Borstel, as battered emotionally as physically by the end of this one, “but I’d rather win than not pitch.”