MARSHALL - After a crushing 14-5 loss to MACCRAY on Tuesday, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton softball team needed a pick-me-up.
So when the Panthers took the field on Thursday for a non-conference game with Marshall, the team's bats provided just the boost TMB needed.
Going off for 11 hits and five runs, the Panthers left the Marshall Softball Complex with a 5-4 win over the Tigers.
Photo by Joe Brown
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Kate Johnston, left, tags second base for an out as Marshall’s Amy Welu (15) slides in the seventh inning of Thursday’s non-conference softball game at the Marshall Softball Complex.
"We wanted to play good today becuase our last game, we didn't play so hot and we were ready for this one," said TMB junior catcher Alexis Buysse. "Marshall is always a rival for us because we're so close and they're a bigger school than us."
With a 5-1 lead through the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers survived a late Marshall rally to get their ninth win of the season. Held to just four hits through five innings, Brooke Louwagie helped the Tigers out with a solo home run in the sixth inning for her first round-tripper of the year.
Emily Mortier got the Tigers going in the seventh with a one-out single, followed by another single by Amy Welu. With two outs, a single by Callie Graff brought Mortier home, and Hannah Wenker scored on a TMB fielding error to close the deficit to one.
|TMB||001 301 0—5 11 1|
|Marshall||010 001 2—4 8 1|
|TMB-Jenny Welu; M-Callie Graff. WP-Welu. LP-Graff. HR: M-Brooke Louwagie. 2B: TMB-Alexis Buysse 2, Kate Johnston; M-Kelli VanLeeuwe. LOB: TMB-11; M-4.|
With the game-tying run on third, Maci Louwagie stepped into the batter's box for Marshall and hit a high pop-up to the right side. Amid the confusion, TMB's Kate Johnston bolted from shortstop to make a falling catch for the game's final out, preserving the Panthers' victory.
"That running, falling-down, diving catch Kate made from shortstop, that was huge," said TMB head coach Paul Skoglund. "With the tying run on third, who knows what could have happened? We just made a lot of good plays and I'm just happy for the girls."
After a scoreless first, Marshall got on the scoreboard first when Katie Kaiser scored on a groundout by Wenker. In the top of the third, Johnston got the momentum back in TMB's favor with a two-out double. The next batter, Buysse, tied the game up with an RBI double.
"I just try to hit it up there and hope it goes somewhere good," said Buysse, who was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
In the fourth, TMB's batters broke the game wide open. With two runners on and two outs, Anna Johnson hit a single to load the bases. Then Johnston provided some patience at the plate against Marshall's Graff, drawing a walk to put the score in the Panthers' favor. Buysse then hit a ball that was bobbled at third base to bring in another run, and Jenny Welu followed up with another bases-loaded walk to put the lead at 4-1.
"If we would have made some defensive plays and gotten out of that inning, we probably could have won that game 4-2," said Tigers' head coach Jack Houseman.
Still up 4-1, Johnson led things off for TMB with a single, and came around home on a single by Welu for the four-run cushion.
"We're playing only nine kids, and one of the reasons I can do that is because everyone in the lineup can hit," said Skoglund, who had eight of his nine players notch base hits. "I'm not worried about situations where we need a pinch hitter. When we play like this, we can play with anybody."
Taking the circle for the Panthers, Welu threw a complete game, striking out three and leaving the Tigers' batters baffled before their seventh-inning rally.
"We didn't do a real good job with our pitch selection," Houseman said. "We made a few mistakes on some high ones that we shouldn't have gone after. But (Welu) does a good job."
TMB (9-4 overall) plays another non-conference game on Monday at Murray County Central, while Marshall (3-6) hosts Montevideo today at the Marshall Softball Complex.