By Josh Brown
PIQUA — After Piqua’s first eight hitters reached base and scored and the Indians posted nine runs in the first inning, Troy softball coach Megan Campbell didn’t hang her head.
She wanted to see if her Trojans would or not, though.
And even though that huge hole proved to be too much to climb out of, Troy did everything it could to get out of it, chipping away at the rival Indians’ lead throughout the game in a 12-7 loss Thursday in a makeup game from Monday’s rainout.
“With our girls, I never feel that way,” Campbell said. “Softball is such a mental game, and after that nine-run inning we had a choice — we could just roll over and be done, or we could keep fighting. And we’ve got some scrappy girls that never stop fighting.”
Piqua’s punch in the first inning would have knocked out most right then and there.
With a strong wind blowing straight out, the Indians (2-2, 2-0 Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division) put the ball in the air and watched it sail. Of the Indians’ seven hits in the first inning, four were doubles. Megan Anderson hit the first pitch Piqua saw off the fence in center for a double, then Alexis Gordon beat out a bunt single. Janise Hummel followed with a two-run double, and a series of wild pitches brought in two more runs.
A two-run double by Emily Smith made it a 6-0 game, and after a pitching change Kelsey Hall hit another double to put runners on second and third with no outs after eight hitters. Kendall Grunkenmeyer hit an RBI groundout to make it 7-0, Gordon drove an RBI single to center and an error brought in a ninth run before the Trojans finally got out of the inning.
“We knew the wind was blowing out coming into the game,” Campbell said. “But I’m incredibly proud of the girls. When you give up nine in the first inning, it takes a lot of mental toughness to keep coming back. But that’s what we did — and we never panicked. We stayed smart in our at-bats, worked the counts, and got seven runs.”
Troy (1-6, 0-2 GWOC North) got started in the top of the second, scoring its first run on an errant throw trying to get the lead runner at third on a bunt followed by an RBI single by Brittany Sowers. And after Hall drove in a run for the Indians in the bottom of the second to make it 10-2, Troy posted two more runs in the top of the third on back-to-back RBI singles by Alex Wilt and Dani Lade.
Mackenzie Vernon — who came in in the first in relief of Natalie Henson — meanwhile, settled in nicely. Piqua got one more earned run off of her in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by Anderson (2 for 4, two doubles), scoring another on an error to make it 12-4 after five. But Vernon finished the game giving up eight hits, three earned runs and striking out two.
“Mackenzie showed a lot of maturity, both as a pitcher and a player, today,” Campbell said. “And Natalie throws the ball hard and will continue to grow in our program.”
The Trojans made things even more interesting in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. Lade (2 for 4, two RBIs) drove in a run with an infield single, then Allison Pierce (2 for 4, two RBIs) drove in a pair with a single to center to make it 12-7. Piqua’s Jaden Piatt got out of the jam, though, and stranded a two-out single in the top of the seventh to close out the game.
Troy returns to action Monday and Tuesday with a back-to-back series against GWOC North foe Sidney.
Troy022 003 0 — 7 8 4
Piq910 020 x — 12 13 4
N. Henson, Vernon (1) and M. Henson, Kiser (2). Piatt and Smith. WP — Piatt. LP — N. Henson. 2B — Anderson 2 (P), Gordon (P), Hummel (P), Smith 2 (P). Records: Troy 1-6, 0-2. Piqua 2-2, 2-0.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.