The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 9, 2013

Tigers rally to get past Storm

BY CHAD DARE
Commercial-News

WESTVILLE —  Senior Bobbi Morris wasn’t very happy with her first four at-bats on Monday afternoon.

The Westville second baseman was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt and a run scored in four trips to the plate against the Salt Fork Storm and freshman pitcher Logan Sanford.

But a few walks and a couple of errors got the Tigers’ seventh-inning rally started and Morris delivered the game-winning, two-out single to center giving Westville a 13-12 win over Salt Fork.

“I didn’t hit the ball very well until that last time up,’’ Morris admitted. “I went up to the plate knowing that I needed to do something good for my team.’’

Does a game-winning hit make up for the previous at-bats?

“Not to me,’’ Morris said. “It’s a good feeling to win the game, but I will still remember the things I did wrong in those previous at-bats.’’

Actually, Morris really didn’t have a bad approach at the plate in her four previous appearances — she just hit three grounders (two were outs and one resulted in an error) and had a sacrifice bunt.

“Bobbi was making good contact, she just wasn’t finding the holes,’’ Westville coach Shawn Skinner said. “She is our No. 6 hitter, but she is a tough out. I felt really good when she came to the plate in that situation.’’

And part of Skinner’s confidence came from the fact that Morris won a game last year with a two-out grand slam against Oakwood.

“Being in that situation before gave me confidence when I was up there, but this was a totally different situation,’’ said Morris, as the Tigers overcame a 12-9 deficit starting the seventh.

Westville, which improves to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Vermilion Valley Conference, got the frame started with back-to-back walks to Courtney Gabehart and Morgan Gallion.

“We went with the old-school philosophy of taking until the pitcher threw a strike,’’ Skinner said. “The toughest out is the 21st in high school softball — that’s why you celebrate victories.’’

The Tigers got their first run on the seventh on Katie Swisher sacrifice bunt and the subsequent error by the Storm.

Danielle Gabehart followed with another sacrifice bunt and Westville had pulled within 12-11 with just one out in the inning.

“This game was very frustrating because I know that we can play better than that,’’ said Salt Fork coach Kali Ford, whose team committed six errors leading to seven unearned runs. “Give Westville all of the credit for taking advantage of our mistakes.

“We just simply gave them too many free bases.’’

And it wasn’t just fielding errors as the Tigers loaded the bases when Carson Richardson, the winner pitcher for Westville, was hit by a pitch followed by a walk to Ashley Hoffman.

The Tigers tied the game at 12-12 on Salt Fork’s sixth error of the contest and Morris followed with her game-winning hit.

“As I told the girls after the game, we will always take an ugly win over a pretty loss,’’ Skinner said. “But, I give my girls credit, they executed the game plan.’’

Westville finished with just six hits and three of those were either bunt or infield singles.

“We played old-fashion softball,’’ Skinner said. “Being able to bunt and being able to run the bases are still important parts of this game.’’

Salt Fork, which falls to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the VVC, countered with an explosive offensive attack as every batter in the lineup had at least one hit.

The Storm finished with 16 hits, including a pair of doubles but they also left 11 runners on base — including six in scoring position.

“We didn’t do a very good job of adjusting,’’ Ford said. “We were getting people on base, but we didn’t always come up with the clutch hit.’’

Salt Fork had opportunities in the final two innings to extend its lead.

Sanford, who took the loss for the Storm, led off the sixth with a double to center. After Kayln Learnard reached on an error, Richardson retired the No. 2-3-4 hitters for Salt Fork on a pair of fly outs and a pop out.

In the seventh, the Storm got a one-out single by Camaryn Todd but she didn’t get past second base.

“The sixth and seventh innings were easily the best innings for Carson,’’ Skinner said. “She made good pitches and the defense made plays behind her.’’

Salt Fork’s Nicole Weston had a team-high three RBIs, while Learnard, Kaylee McFadden, Emilie McFadden, Todd, Lexi Smith and Sanford each finished with two hits.