TABOR - Essex plated five runs in the top of the ninth inning to edge Fremont-Mills 8-3 in Class 1A, Region 7 softball in Tabor last Wednesday.
The Trojanns had rallied once before, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh to force extra innings after the Knights entered the frame with a 3-1 lead.
After both teams loaded the bases but failed to push a run across in the eighth inning, Knight pitcher Madison Powers struck out the lead off batter in the ninth before Essex responded in a big way. Regan Burns singled and then scored on Ausha Gay’s two-run home run. Bethany Johnson and Sara Skalberg, who reached on a single and double, respectively, both scored on an error to make the score 7-3 with just one out. A pair of Knight errors aided the Trojans in their final run.
“We struggled (offensively) all night long,” said Fremont-Mills coach Kyle Fichter. “The last half of the season, we haven’t been hitting the ball and they hit the ball real well. We were happy to get to 3-1 but we couldn’t hold it.”
Bethany Johnson led Essex with three hits while Kym Graham, Burns and Amber Ohnmacht each added two hits apiece.
Pitcher Sara Skalberg was dominant at times in the circle, scattering four hits and fanning seven while throwing all seven innings.
“She pitched really well for them. She had better control this time than the last time we saw her,” Fichter said of Skalberg.
Powers took the loss for the Knights, allowing 11 hits and striking out 11. Four of her seven earned runs came in the decisive ninth inning.
Corner Conference champion Knights close out their season with a record of 15-11 overall and 9-1 in the conference.
East Mills 1
Fremont-Mills executed a “small ball” game plan with six bunt hits and pitcher Madison Powers scattered five hits as the Knights downed East Mills 7-1 in rain-shortened Class 1A, Region 7 opening round softball tilt last Monday.
The game was suspended in the seventh inning and the Knights ahead 8-1 due to rain and lightening in the area. According to state rules the game reverted to the last completed inning giving the Knights the 7-1 victory.
Neither team could muster much offense off Powers or Wolverine starter Joni Laughlin through two innings. The two teams combined to strand five runners over the opening two frames.
But the Knights finally got to Laughlin in the top of the third when Taryn Williams singled and stole second and third. Following a walk to Sabrina Hernandez the Knights executed a perfect double steal that allowed Williams to slide in safely at home for the 1-0 lead.
The score would remain that way into the fifth inning when Kalyn Madison singled, Sydney Esary reached on an error and Williams bunted her way aboard to load the bases. Back-to-back bunts by Hernandez and Clara Schaaf drove in two more runs. The Knights had a chance at more runs but a nifty unassisted double play by Devin Laughlin ended the inning.
The Wolverines loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame by Powers, as she did all game long, pitched out of the jam, inducing a pop out and a ground out to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Knights got an RBI triple from Madison, a pair of bunt hits and a pair of walks to plate four insurance runs.
East Mills responded in the bottom of the sixth by getting its first two hitters on base but a pair of groundouts and a strikeout ended a potential rally.
Powers fanned eight and allowed no earned runs to improve her record to 8-6 this season. Williams and Madison each recorded two hits.
Zena Courtier led East Mills with two hits. Rachel Schafer singled and drove in the Wolverines’ lone run.