Jaclyn Jenkins delivered a walk-off, two-run single which lifted Daniel Boone to a 10-9 win over Science Hill and its fourth straight Big Eight Conference softball title. It left head coach Rick Wagner wondering how it happened.
“I don’t know how we won that ballgame,” Wagner said after his team rallied from a three-run deficit in the final inning. “It was like, ‘This isn’t going as planned.’ They put pressure on us and we didn’t handle it too well early. You can’t give them that many opportunities and come out of here with a win. I would say offensively, we never stopped.”
It was certainly the case in Boone’s final at-bats.
McKenzi Ferguson started off the final inning with a solo home run and Kayla Sanders pulled Boone within one run on a RBI single. It enabled Jenkins to hit a hard shot over the outstretched arm of Science Hill’s second baseman which scored Meredith Good and Sanders.
“Whenever I saw the pitch coming, I just went with it,” said Jenkins, also the winning pitcher after taking over for Ferguson in the third inning. “Right when I saw it tip her glove, I knew we had it. To pull this through, it shows how we work as a team.”
The Lady ’Blazers improved to 11-0 in the Big Eight Conference and 24-3 overall, giving them at least a share of league title. Science Hill, which scored runs in every inning but the first, fell to 9-3 and 18-12.
“We didn’t get them out when we needed to get them out,” Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins said. “I thought we played a great game. We hit the ball and ran the bases well. Four out of the last five games against them going back to last year, we had them down and they came back. It’s pretty obvious they’re a talented team. Sometimes it seems like it’s not meant to be.”
Sanders was the epitome of Boone never giving up.
Safe to say, it wasn’t her best day defensively as two throwing errors allowed two runs scored for Science Hill. She also had a couple of passed balls a couple of other times when Lady ’Toppers scored.
However, she made up for it at the plate. She ended 3-for-3, reached base in all five at-bats and finished with three runs scored.
“They were making us play hard, but we were making them play a lot harder,” Sanders said. “They might have deserved the game, but we outplayed them at the end.”
Haley Wagner got Boone on the scoreboard first with a two-run home run in the first inning. Science Hill pulled ahead in the top of the third with a two-run single by Jordan Rush before the Lady ’Blazers battled back with a two-run single by Ferguson.
The Lady ’Toppers retook the lead in the top of the fourth with Hannah Devotie and Megan Devotie scoring off a pair of Boone errors.
After Boone’s Hannah Montoya closed the margin to one on a RBI single, a solo home run by Science Hill’s Allison Poget in the top of the fifth pushed the lead back to two.
Hannah Devotie scored her third run of the game in the sixth inning. A RBI single by Abby Higgins in the top of the seventh gave Science Hill a 9-6 lead.
However, Boone’s second part of its lineup came through in the final frame, setting the stage for the final heroics.
Ferguson ended 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Kaitlyn Conkin also finished 2-for-4. Good was 1-for-2, reaching base three times and scoring two runs.
“One through nine, we hit the ball pretty good,” Wagner said. “As far as swinging the bat, Hannah is up there at a good time, and if Jaclyn just gets on (base), we have Fergie who hit a home run already after her. We’re not bad at times.”
Science Hill wasn’t bad either with nine hits overall. Poget and Megan Devotie each finished 2-for-4 to lead the Lady ’Toppers. Vanessa Elliott suffered the loss in the circle after a complete-game effort.
Both teams go on the road for league games on Thursday. Boone travels to Dobyns-Bennett, while Science Hill will face Sullivan South.