GREENTOWN — Allison Delgado picked an ideal moment for her first home run.
The Comet sophomore led off the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday evening with the softball squads from Eastern and Kokomo deadlocked at 2-all. Delgado ended any threat of extra innings when she blasted a line drive homer over down the left-field line to give Eastern a 3-2 walk-off victory.
“Earlier in the game Allison hit a ball that it was gone, but it went foul,” Eastern coach Steve Bratcher said. “She’s been hitting the ball well. Last week-and-a-half, two weeks, she’s really found a groove. What a great time for her first home run. She went up with a lot of confidence. She just took care of the pitch and did a great job with it.”
Delgado’s shot was smoked, exiting in a hurry.
“It felt like an eternity for me!” Bratcher said.
Delgado’s teammates greeted her at home plate and the Class 2A No. 8 Comets went home with their ninth victory of the season against just two losses.
It had been difficult for either side to generate run-scoring rallies. The previous four runs each came in two half-innings.
Eastern grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by Nos. 8 and 9 hitters Emily Belt and Kendall Wilson, chasing Kokomo starting pitcher Gwen Hand in the process. Kokomo countered in the top of the fifth when Sarah Stonebraker cranked a two-run line-drive homer to right center.
“The coaches and I were talking: The bottom half of our lineup really did a great job,” Bratcher said.
Eastern No. 5 hitter Macy Coan started the fourth-inning rally with a single and Alayna Ayers followed with a walk and Emi Benson bunted them into scoring position with Belt and Wilson up next.
“Emily Belt, a senior, did a great job in the outfield in right field for us but she also got a big single for us. It was a big game and Kendall is a freshman playing left field and doing a great job for us in that 9 spot. I was super pleased with the bottom of our lineup,” he said.
Coan was strong on both sides. On offense she was 2 for 2 with two singles and a walk. In the pitching circle she threw all seven innings for the win, allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out 10 without issuing a walk.
“[Coan] can change eye level a little bit. It makes it tough for hitters,” Bratcher said. “When we have her in our practice, it makes it tough to hit her. She’s just a bulldog on the mound for us.”
The Wildkats fell to 6-4.
“Macy Coan pitched a heck of a game,” Kokomo coach Mike Susong said. “We did not bring our bats. Our approach at the plate was not very good and she took advantage of us.
“I don’t know how many strikeouts we had in the first nine batters [five] but it wasn’t pretty. Second time through we started making contact but we’re popping everything up. Anybody can catch popups. You’ve got to drive the ball.”
Stonebraker accounted for half of Kokomo’s hits, collecting two singles to go with her homer.
“Sarah did a really nice job at the plate,” Susong said. “Her approach was good, she was aggressive, she went after it. The fact of the matter is we’ve got to bring more energy. Our dugout was dead. I don’t know why because we’re playing a county rival who we know is a really good team, so we’ve got to bring more energy.”
Kokomo relief pitcher Carly Patterson took the loss. She entered after Eastern’s runs in the fourth, stopped that rally and threw 2 2/3 innings. The Delgado homer was the only hit she gave up.
Delgado finished 2 for 4 and was the only one of Eastern’s top four batters to get a hit.
“We played well. We still found some things we need to improve on,” Bratcher said. “We want to be playing our best ball at the end of May and I think we’re progressing that way. This was a big help.”