Madison Plains struck first at Northmor in Thursday’s sectional championship softball contest, but it was the Golden Knights who struck last in battling back for an 8-7 win that delivered the school its second sectional title in program history.
“I don’t know how long we’ve had softball — 30 years?” said head coach Mark Wiseman after the contest. “The first was in 2014. It’s something we want to experience every year, but it’s a process to get there.”
An ugly start made it look like Northmor’s postseason run would come to an abrupt end. Madison Plains took advantage of a walk, a batter hit by a pitch, an error and one hit to jump in front by a 3-0 score in the top half of the first inning. However, Golden Knight starter Megan Adkins settled down after that inning to only surrender one more run over the next four frames.
Northmor took advantage of that to creep back into the game. In the bottom of the second, Emily Zeger reached on an error to open the inning and scored when a fly ball by Brooke Kissling resulted in another error. Kissling was on third base with two outs when a ground ball by Maddie Hoverland led to the Eagles’ third miscue of the inning and allowed the home team to close within one run.
Madison Plains scored in their half of the third to increase their advantage to a 4-2 margin, but Northmor tied things up in the fourth when Hoverland drove in Audrey Toth and herself with a two-run homer.
The Golden Knights would then take their first lead of the game in the fifth inning. Megan Simpson led off by drawing a walk and the Eagles misplayed a ball by Zeger, allowing her to cross home plate.
Northmor would then load the bases with one out, but couldn’t add to their 5-4 lead. That looked like it would be costly in the top of the sixth, as Madison Plains jumped back in front after only two batters. Bailey Ernst opened the inning with a double and Jordyn McPherson followed with a two-run shot to put the Eagles back on top.
Wiseman would switch pitchers from Adkins to Hoverland, but an error and a double by Sierra Wall would result in another run, putting the Golden Knights in a 7-5 hole.
“There was no safe lead for sure,” said Wiseman of the back-and-forth game. “Give them a ton of credit. They came in and gave us their best game. These guys are resilient. They’ve scored enough runs all year to do the job.”
And they would get the job done in the bottom of the sixth. Morgan Wiseman and Adkins opened with back-to-back singles. With one out, both would be brought home by a Zeger triple and she then scored when Kissling cracked a double.
This time, Northmor’s lead would hold up, thanks to Hoverland’s pitching and some good defense. She pitched a perfect seventh inning, getting one strikeout, as well as a groundout and pop-up, to send her team to districts.
Wiseman noted that it’s nice to have two quality pitchers in Adkins and Hoverland who complement each other.
“Give credit to Maddie Hoverland for coming in and shutting them down,” he said. “She really pitched well. Megan is my fastball pitcher, while Maddie pounds the strike zone with a lot of junk.”
The coach added that not having a 2020 season due to COVID-19 made his players determined to make the most out of this year.
“Not having a season last year made the girls more resilient and it showed here,” he said.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS