Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 8, 2014

SOFTBALL: N. Miami tops Carroll in thriller

Warriors push across winning run in bottom of 9th

BY PEDRO VELAZCO KOKOMO TRIBUNE
Kokomo Tribune

---- — FRANKFORT — Each half inning got more and more tense as the evening light faded and opportunities to score were squandered on base.

The Carroll Cougars went toe-to-toe with the top-ranked North Miami Warriors and their star pitcher, Josie Wood.

The Class A Clinton Prairie Semistate final was scoreless through the regulation seven innings, then an eighth and all but one out in the ninth before North Miami finally broke through with a two-out run in the bottom of the second extra frame. That gave North Miami a 1-0 victory and a spot in next Saturday’s state finals against North Daviess.

“There was a lot of tension,” North Miami coach Bob Cooley said. “We were trying very hard to get in scoring position, let alone have the opportunity to score once we got there. I think the girls stayed focused pretty good, but yeah it was a nerve-wracking game.”

It ended when North Miami’s No. 9 hitter Alyssa Bishop steered a two-out single to left field to score Savannah Davis. Davis had led off the frame and reached on an error.

“This is tremendous,” Cooley said of making it to state. “I’ve never been here before, the school never has. [We’ve enjoyed] a tremendous outpouring from the community, so it’s pretty exciting.”

The run in the ninth inning ended Carroll’s season just shy of the state finals. Carroll ended the campaign 22-10.

“They did a phenomenal job, we just didn’t get the hits down at the plate,” Carroll coach Stephanie Pencek said.

Carroll had one hit against Wood, who fanned 18 batters. The Cougars were almost as tough to crack. Carroll junior Carly Kingery gave up just three hits and two walks. She worked her way out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth and finished with a dozen strikeouts.

“It was definitely a pitching duel, for sure,” Pencek said.

Wood, a junior who is committed to pitch at IU next season, credited her counterpart for making the game a duel.

“That’s probably the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Wood said.

The decisive moment came with the game a little more than two hours old. Davis had reached on an error after a low throw bounced to first and the throw wasn’t fielded cleanly to record the out. Emmy Grant and Gabby Wilkinson bunted her to second and third respectively, setting up Bishop in the No. 9 spot. She delivered the hit set North Miami on a course to next week’s state finals at Indianapolis Ben Davis.

“That was huge for [Bishop],” Cooley said. “She does a lot of sacrificing. That’s a hard position to play, the No. 9 hole and when your job is to move baserunners, it’s kind of thankless. She has worked extremely hard with her hitting and she’s been capable of doing that. It was awsome to see her finally do that.”