BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS— In a Northern Lakes League contest in Bowling Green last Friday, the Maumee softball team had the Bobcats right where they wanted them, but Bowling Green prevailed in extra innings, 4-3.
The Panthers led 3-1 late in the game, but the Bobcats scored two runs, including one in the seventh, to tie the game and send it into extra innings tied at 3-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, BG left-hander Mercedes Richter led off with a base hit up the middle, stole second and scored the walk-off winner on a base hit by Sammie Trimpey.
“Unfortunately, that’s a heartbreaking loss, losing in nine innings,” said Maumee coach Brian Jones. “But it’s a great character builder for our young team.
“I had two freshmen pitching, a freshman catching, we had three sophomores playing in the field and we just could not execute early in the game with the bases loaded and no outs.
“We had runners on second and third with no outs a couple times. We just couldn’t get that key hit.”
The Panthers offense was led by sophomore Haley Hughes, who went 3-for-5 with a run scored and freshman Haley Yarberry, who was 1-for-3 with a run-scoring double.
Jones says his defense was led by senior Abi Wolfram at first base, Hughes tracking down fly balls in center field and “some very nice pitching by both freshmen, Haley Yarberry and Josie Brooks.”
Yarberry and Brooks combined to allow only four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in nine innings.
Hughes had a diving catch in center field that prevented BG from scoring the winning run on a line drive in the eighth.
Maumee had trouble getting base runners in the eighth and ninth innings, as Bowling Green pitcher Meghan Kramp struck out four and did not allow a base runner.
The Panthers had a chance to add more runs in the seventh, but that failed, too.
Maumee senior Haleigh Crouch led off by reaching on a walk and Hughes hit a base hit to left field to put two runners on with no outs.
Kramp proceeded to strike out the next two batters, however, and got the third batter to fly out to center. The Panthers were still up 3-2, however, and just needed three outs to get their first NLL win.
Michaela Boston led off the bottom of the seventh for BG with a base hit, stole second and third and scored the tying run on a base hit by Brooke Mannin.
Jones was pleased with Yarberry and Brooks’ pitching in this game and also in a 19-1 win over Bowsher the night before. They had allowed just five runs in the two games.
“What we did basically is we have both freshmen – we are basically going to rotate them out to keep them off balance,” Jones said.
“One of them has a really good screw ball with a drop curve and the other has a change-up with a nice drop ball, so we’re just going to utilize them and build for the future.”
Jones believes this could be the game that turns the corner for his young Panthers.
“I’m so proud. This is awesome,” he said. “To come down here and play like that, you never want to lose, but you always want to learn.
“This will definitely make us a better team going into next week against Anthony Wayne.”
Maumee vs. Springfield
On April 12, the Panthers lost 17-2 to what Jones called “a hard-hitting and well-coached Springfield team.” He added that “the Panthers played hard and battled.”
The offense was led by Hughes, who went 2-for-3, and freshman Kyle Michalak, who was 2-for-2. It was the defense, though. that brought Maumee down once again.
“It was the same thing with Springfield – we just had too many physical errors,” Jones said.
“We gave them 12 outs in the second inning. They scored 13 runs off that and you can’t do that to any team, let alone a good-hitting Springfield team.”
Maumee vs. Southview
On a cold and windy night at Rolf Park on April 14, the Panthers fell, 12-1, to the Cougars, who “came out swinging,” Jones said. Southview scored seven times in the first inning.
Skyler Nowak led the way, going 4-for-4 with two home runs, while as Jones said, “the Panthers’ bats were as cold as the wind.”
The only exception, he added, was a homer in the first inning by Peyton Phillips, her third on the season.
The Panthers returned to action on Monday when they hosted Anthony Wayne. They were at Napoleon on Wednesday and will host Perrysburg at 5:00 p.m. at Rolf Park on Friday.