Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 22, 2013

Kats drop heartbreaker

Kokomo falls to Harrison in extra inning at sectional

By Pedro Velazco
Tribune sportswriter

West Lafayette — When the postseason arrives, emotions surge like a roller-coaster. One minute, it’s a long uphill, then a wild series of events offer a barrage of frights and thrills. And then, for one team, the ride ends and there aren’t any more tickets for another go around.

After two days of chills and thrills, Kokomo’s softball team ran out of tickets Tuesday night in the Class 4A Harrison Sectional. The Kats dropped a 4-3 decision to Harrison in eight innings, giving up a run in the top of the extra frame, and having a runner tagged out at home in the bottom of the frame.

“It was a great game,” Harrison coach Dick Mitchell said. “It’s always nerve-wracking to coach in one of them, but both teams played their hearts out. Nobody deserved to lose that game, but unfortunately somebody does.”

Kokomo (16-10) sent the game to an extra inning with a clutch two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. Samantha Johnson started the rally with an infield single, and then came home Paris McCullum’s double to deep left-center, knotting the game at 3-all.

Harrison (14-14) struck in the top of the eighth when Kaitlyn Carnahan doubled, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a single from Katie Knoy. The Kats threatened in the bottom half of the frame. Miranda Ogle reached on an error to start the inning. Pinch runner Rajestaney Small was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Kendra Ryker. Shelby Troyer then singled deep to the hole between short and second. Harrison shortstop Alexis Spitsnagle and second baseman Knoy collided and both fell on the play. Small hesitated briefly as she watched the infielders struggle, then continued for home and Spitznagle was able to recover and throw home for the out. One popout later and Harrison claimed victory.

“The girl made a diving play, came up with it, stood up and made a great throw and we got thrown out at the plate,” Kokomo coach Mike Susong said. “There’s a lot of ifs and buts in that game. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Harrison put pressure on the Kats instantly to start the game, scoring twice in the first inning. The second run hurt more than the first. With Hunter Bridge on third, a soft grounder to the circle was fielded cleanly by Kokomo pitcher Kami Sharp, who, with two outs, looked home, then opted for the safe throw to first instead, but no Kat was covering first and the run scored unopposed.

“I think probably the difference in the whole game was we came out a little flat in the first inning, and they scored two runs on us,” Susong said. “Really, should have only had one there. We had a routine ground ball for the third out of the inning and something goes wrong. So we gave away two early, but our kids battled. They fought, they played hard, they got back in it. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”

Kokomo scratched a run back in the second when Allie Cook doubled, was sacrificed to third and scored on a fielder’s choice by Johnson. Harrison scored a run in the fifth, to make the score 3-1 but the Kats pulled a run closer in the bottom of the frame as Cook walked, and moved to second and third by a bunt and a ground out, then came home on a two-out double by Widlkat powderkeg McCullum to make the score 3-2.

“I thought Allie Cook was tremendous, Paris McCullum was tremendous,” Susong said, noting that their doubles only stayed in the park due to Harrison’s deep dimensions. “The biggest thing is I’m going to miss these seniors. They’ve been a big part of helping us go where we want to go as a program. Hopefully we will continue that and our younger kids will see how hard we play.”