IRONTON — It may be cliche, but it’s true.
There are just some things that you have to see to believe.
And in a wild doubleheader between the New Boston Lady Tigers and the Ironton St. Joseph Lady Flyers, that was certainly the case on Saturday afternoon.
In a pair of thrilling contests, the confusion of who was up next in the order, along with a pair of home runs, were only part of the story, as a contest that Ironton St. Joseph thought ended with a walkoff home run in five innings had to be played out for another two frames after that.
Unfortunately for New Boston, the result of the first contest, along with the second affair, didn’t go in the matter it had hoped for, as the Lady Tigers fell by 8-7 and 7-6 tallies, respectively, in a pair of contests held at the Ironton Little League Softball Complex.
While the losses were certainly heartbreaking for the Lady Tigers, Brian Holbrook wasn’t the least bit disappointed in his team’s effort.
“The girls are tough ballplayers,” Holbrook said. “We have a lot of freshmen, but they’re trying to work hard to keep the program going. There were simple mistakes in both ballgames that we’re going to fix. We’re not out of this. We’ve got enough desire to want to play and win, so we’ll see what happens on Monday (against East).”
In the first contest, New Boston struck with the opening salvo in the top half of the third inning of play as an Ironton St. Joe error and a base knock by Madison Salisbury allowed Kaylee Stone to drive in a pair with her bases-clearing double that put the Lady Tigers in front, 2-0, following the frame.
And even though Ironton St. Joseph tied the score on an error that scored a pair of runs with one out in the bottom half of the same frame, New Boston came right back in the top of the fourth, as a Lexus Oiler walk and a Brianna Wiedbrauk single set the table for Salisbury as the leadoff hitter drove Oiler in with her single back up the middle of the diamond to give New Boston the lead, 3-2, after four complete innings.
Then the contest took a wild turn.
After Ironton St. Joseph obtained a single from Kelsey Malone to start off the inning, Megan Riley launched a ball over the left field fence to obtain what was apparently a walkoff home run as both teams headed to the dugout and took a 30-minute recess.
However, after going through the entire process of getting the second contest ready to go — with both teams’ lineups even being set for the second game — both schools were informed that the first game had to be, indeed, a seven-inning affair — creating an astonishing situation that Holbrook said he hadn’t seen before.
“I haven’t,” Holbrook said. “There was a question on the ruling of whether we were supposed to play five innings or seven innings, and it finally got situated that it had to be seven, so St. Joe agreed to finish at seven, and that’s what we did.”
So the first game was resumed where both schools left it — at the bottom of the fifth with one out and Ironton St. Joseph’s Ashley Bartram heading to the plate.
And initially, it didn’t look as if the resumption of the first affair was going to help New Boston that much, as Bartram’s single and a Natalie Heaberlin walk allowed Karly Young to bring in Bartram with her RBI double to push the score to a 5-3 margin after five innings.
But out of nowhere, New Boston responded with life in the sixth inning, as Lexus Oiler and Salisbury got things started again. Oiler’s walk, along with a free pass to Brooklyn Hoskins and a bases-clearing triple by Salisbury, put the Lady Tigers right back into the mix as the Lady Tigers tied the score at five.
Ironton St. Joseph’s top of the order, however, proved to be too strong. A walk to Morgan Turner, along with a stolen base by the leadoff hitter and an error, allowed Turner to advance to third base with nobody out in the inning, which allowed Alex Holtzapfel to single in Turner with her RBI. Two errors and a two-RBI single by Heaberlin allowed the Lady Flyers to increase the lead to 8-5 in a blink of an eye.
New Boston, however, never quit. Behind a Sammy Oiler single, New Boston regained a bit of life and made Ironton St. Joseph sweat when Kaylee Stone crushed a Holtzaphel pitch to dead center, where it sailed out of the park and bounced off the hood of a Chevrolet truck.
“Kaylee recorded her first dinger of the year,” Holbrook said. “It looked good. She put a lot of spirit into our fight with her home run, the double and the great catch that she made on a line drive by Morgan Turner in the third inning of the first game.”
But despite the efforts of Sammy Oiler and Stone, along with a single from Tasha Poole and a double from Lexus Oiler to put runners on second and third with two gone in the top of the seventh, a popup sealed New Boston’s fate.
“Our girls made a nice comeback and showed a lot of fight,” Holbrook said. “Unfortunately, we just fell short there by one.”
In the second affair New Boston struck first again, and this time, wasted little time in doing so, as the Lady Tigers took advantage of their own plate discipline and a pair of wild pitches to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning of play.
Ironton St. Joe, however, wasted little time in their own right, as a pair of singles and a wild pitch, which scored a run, allowed Bartram to drive in two more tallies with her bases-clearing double to give the Lady Flyers the lead, 3-2.
After scoring a run apiece in the fourth on singles by Wiedbrake (New Boston) and Malone (Ironton St. Joe), the Lady Tigers, down 4-3 entering the fifth and final frame of the second affair, got rolling again as an outfield error, a single by Stone, and a 1-3 groundout by Chloe Sparks allowed New Boston to tie the score at four aside.
With two down in the same frame, Sammy Oiler drew a walk and stole a base, which put Poole in a position to drive in the go-ahead runs. True to form, Poole did just that, and with a two-RBI single up the middle, gave New Boston its first lead since the first inning of the second affair.
“Tosha kept us in the game,” Holbrook said. “The girls hit the ball better here than they did against Notre Dame, so we’re on the comeback trail at the plate.”
But sadly, the second game turned out to be much like the first affair.
After initially garnering an out by retiring Bartram, the leadoff batter in the inning for Ironton St. Joseph, three straight singles by Kaitlin Sheridan, Faith Mahlmeister, and Young, along with a 4-3 groundout by Isabella Griffth, allowed the Lady Flyers to tie the score at six apiece with two gone in the inning.
And with two out and a runner on third, Turner, unfortunately, repeated the same phrase, as the shortstop’s own base knock through the gap allowed Ironton St. Joseph to take the second contest by a 7-6 tally.
While the venture over to Ironton was ultimately unsuccessful, Holbrook knows that his New Boston squad will have plenty of opportunities to redeem itself. The Lady Tigers play East on Monday evening in a SOC I rivalry affair.
“We’re going to do our best to come back, battle, and stay in the mix,” Holbrook said. “That’s our whole goal.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7