With the game deadlocked at four, North Johnstonâ€™s Whitney Parrish, who had only one hit her previous four at-bats, ended the North Lincoln Lady Knightsâ€™ season with a hit to right field that drove in the game-winning run.
Despite trailing 4-0 at one point, the Panthers refused to surrender. Instead they tied the game in the bottom of the seventh before rallying for the 5-4 win in nine innings.
On what couldâ€™ve been the final out of the game, an infield throwing error allowed Candace Evans to score the game-tying run.
With runners on second and third, left fielder Calah Bynum turned in what looked to be the game-saving play.
Robyn Creech nailed a liner to left. Bynum tracked the ball down and threw to third to get Hannah Ellis at third for a double-play.
Third baseman McKenzie Harkey dove to put the tag on Ellis to complete a gem of a play.
In the fifth inning, North Johnstonâ€™s Amanda Pope put the Panthers on the board with an RBI-single to right-center.
Two batters later, Evans drove in Jessica Narron. Stephanie Norris also scored as miscue was made in the outfield.
Nicole Baxter buckled down, preventing any more damage.
In the top of the fourth, North Lincoln scored the gameâ€™s first run on Nicole Hallâ€™s ball to third.
Freshman Kayla Alexander, who was on third, outran a pickle for a 1-0 lead. Lindsey Smith also scored on a high throw on the play.
Two batters later, sophomore April Wilson lined one into center field giving the Lady Knights a 3-0 lead.
After a walk/wild-pitch combination advanced Wilson to third, the inning ended in controversial fashion.
A balk was originally called on the pitcher Evans. However, after some deliberation it was ruled North Lincolnâ€™s batter had called timeout before the balk occurred, taking a run away from the Knights.
Evans then got a fly out, getting her out of the inning.
Harkey placed one over Popeâ€™s head in the top of the fifth giving the Knights a 4-0 lead.
Both teams turned in stellar plays in the field, but none was bigger than Michelle Fisherâ€™s catch in right.
With runners on second and third, with no out, Fisher made a Willie Mays-like catch, robbing Smith of an extra-base hit and the Knights of two possible runs. She later robbed Jenna Torbert of a hit by throwing her out at first base.
Ever on the alert, Fisher threw to the infield where they were completed the double play by getting Torbert, who was trying to get back to third.
Bynum made a basket catch in the fourth inning and Feldon followed the solid play with a spectacular leaping grab to end the inning.
Evans allowed seven hits and struck out five batters to earn the victory. The last out marked the 25th-straight inning she pitched on the day.
Baxter suffered the loss, working six complete innings, scattering nine hits and striking out three.
Jessica Narron led the Panthers going 2-for-3.
Brandy Edwards and Ellis both went 2-for-4. Amanda Pope and Parrish went 2-for-5 with one RBI apiece. Evans had two RBIs.
Kayla Alexander paced the Lady Knights, going 2-for-4 on the night. Smith and Harkey were 1-for-3.
The Knights had a golden opportunity in the top of second inning. But with the bases loaded and one out, they were unable to plate any runs.
â€œBases loaded, with one out, and didnâ€™t score. Second and third, with no outs, and a miscue at third base,â€ Lady Knightsâ€™ head coach Rick Brown said.
The Panthersâ€™ second baseman Pope made a play on Wilsonâ€™s hard-hit ball to second ending the Knightsâ€™ bases-loaded threat. A play before Pope threw out a Knightsâ€™ runner at the plate.
She robbed several Knights of base hits in the contest.
Missed opportunities and mental mistakes spelled doom for the Knights.
â€œI told them we werenâ€™t as prepared as I thought we were, which was my fault,â€ Brown said. â€œWe werenâ€™t as focused as we shouldâ€™ve been which was their fault. We never did get the focus back and made too many mistakes in that last game.â€
The coach felt the team wasnâ€™t focused on their goalâ€”which was winning the 1A State Championship.
â€œThey just seemed to have other things on their mind other than softball. It started this morning, the first game,â€ he said. â€œNo matter what I said to them, I just couldnâ€™t get it back,â€ he added.
North Lincoln 000 310 000â€”4 7 2
N. Johnston 000 030 101â€”5 15 2
by John Mark Brooks