BETHANY – Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond is accustomed to shootouts.
The Knights routinely grind out wins just through sheer might and it worked again in Tuesday's Class 1A sectional semifinal against Cumberland.
Arthur's prolific offense quickly lit up and repelled a Cumberland comeback with more runs for a 9-5 victory to keep the season alive and advance to Saturday's sectional final against Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg.
“There's only been about three or four times we've been held under seven (runs),” Arthur coach Jerry Lane said. “We expect to score runs. We can hit up and down the lineup. We try to capitalize on runs every chance we get.”
Mycaela Miller jumpstarted it all, of course.
The senior shortstop blasted a sky-high, 2-run home run to the opposite field for the 2-0 lead and the Knights (21-3) led 4-0 by the end of the first inning.
“I feel like if we didn't have the home run, we wouldn't have gotten as excited and we wouldn't have gotten so many runs,” Mycaela's sister and sophomore teammate Reagan Miller said.
Seven different batters contributed a hit for Arthur while Reagan Miller and Kirsten Corum each had two hits.
“It's basically our entire lineup that can hit,” Reagan said. “If somebody is having a bad day, the rest of us pick her up. It's a lot of fun and coach Lane makes it fun. We all just have a good time.”
But Cumberland (18-10) rallied as expected.
Freshman infielder Madison Hendrix galvanized the Pirates in the second inning with a double and junior teammate Jade McMechan delivered a clutch 2-RBI line drive to center field for a 4-3 deficit. Hendrix later tied it up 4-4 with a solo shot over the left field fence. She walked on her next two plate appearances and finished her last game of the year 2-for-2.
“She enjoys the game,” Cumberland coach John Hendrix said of his daughter Madison. “She puts a lot of effort into it. But it's a team sport and we've all worked together this year. Everyone's had their moments and today it happened to be hers.”
The Knights then poured in five runs in the bottom of the fourth. It started and ended off an error.
Cumberland overshot the throw to first base on Logan Kauffman's at-bat and Taylor Powell trotted home the final run after a catcher's pick-off throw skipped into the outfield.
Arthur scored four unearned runs off five errors.
“Sometimes the ball just doesn't find your glove and we just got to work our way through it,” Hendrix said. “But to Arthur's credit, they pounded on our mistakes and made us pay for it.”
Arthur's now gunning for its first sectional title in program history after claiming its first regional crown last week.
“It's a step in the right direction,” Lane said. “We only have three seniors on the ball team. We just want to keep it going.”
Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg 10, Central A&M 0, 6 innings
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Windsor sophomore pitcher Calla Roney jumped ahead in the count against her first batter.
Then it slipped away and walked her.
She was unflappable the rest of the night and fanned through Central A&M's batting order.
Roney struck out seven and gave up just one hit and that one walk in a cold drizzle.
“I kind of do that sometimes,” Roney said. “I get 0-2 and then I walk a batter. I hate walking the first batter of the game, but I settled in and did a lot better after that.”
Central A&M's Allie Dunn foiled the no-hitter in the fourth with a double. However, she was picked off at second base on a bizarre play.
Windsor catcher Mackenzie Tabbert tossed a pitch back to the circle but Roney wasn't ready for it. The ball went to shortstop Megan Schlechte instead and she tagged out Dunn at the bag.
“That wasn't supposed to happen,” Roney said. “That was kind of a trick play. I kind of missed the ball and it just so happened to be there.”
Windsor (28-4) raced to a 4-0 lead in the third and the Hatchets never looked back. Madison Everett capped that stretch with a squeeze bunt, scoring Roney.
Central A&M finished the year 16-13.
Windsor has the luxury of two outstanding pitchers: Roney and Schlechte.
Both will be ready for Saturday's sectional final against Arthur.
“They're both the aces,” Windsor coach Brittany Holsapple said. “I can go to either one of them on any given day and they will get the job done.”
Slight rain never affected Roney under the lights.
Her dropball was particularly effective and forced several groundouts.
“That's a mental thing,” Roney said of the rain. “If you let the rain bother you, then it will bother you.”
“They got the speed, they got the girls who can play the small game and they got the kids who can drive the gap. They're a good, solid team. We got to keep our heads high. We lost to a good, solid team tonight.” – Hendrix on Arthur