By Josh Brown
TROY —A baserunning miscue that kept a three-run top-of-the sixth inning from being even bigger.
A two-run homer that put them down by one after six innings.
A questionable infield fly call in the top of the seventh that would have loaded the bases with no outs had it not happened.
The Troy Trojans overcame all of that as Megan Schreiber and Brittany Sowers hit back-to-back RBI single in the top of the seventh put Troy back on top, and Mackenzie Vernon locked it down with three outs on three pitches in the bottom of the inning, giving the Trojans a thrilling come-from-behind 7-6 victory and helping them complete a sweep of Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division rival Sidney Wednesday afternoon at Market Street Diamond.
“Sidney’s a good team, and they hit the ball really well,” Troy softball coach Megan Campbell said. “But Mackenzie (Vernon) coming back and getting the next three outs after that home run, then three great plays to end the game in the bottom of the seventh, that was all huge. The girls showed maturity today.”
Particularly late in the game, after Sidney built a 4-2 lead after five innings.
Allison Pierce led off the top of the sixth — Troy was the visiting team since the game was originally scheduled to be played at Sidney, but field conditions there forced a location change — by reaching on an error, and a walk to Schreiber and a series of wild pitches allowed Pierce to score to cut Sidney’s lead to 4-3. Brittany Sowers then drew a walk on a wild pitch and kept running, Sidney threw to second and Schreiber headed home, and the throw to the plate got away from the catcher, allowing Schreiber to tie the score and putting Sowers on third. An RBI bunt single by Maggie McClurg later, Troy led 5-4.
Sidney got the second out of the inning on a called third strike, but they appeared to think it was the third out as the catcher rolled the ball back to the mound. The Trojans tried to catch Sidney sleeping, but their runner was thrown out at third for the final out of the inning.
And in the bottom of the sixth inning, Maddi Homan led off with a double, and pinch hitter Josie Raterman blasted what appeared to be a game-changing home run over the fence in left, putting Sidney up 6-5 with one swing of the bat. But Vernon — who entered in the fifth in relief of starter Natalie Henson — got out of the inning without any further damage.
Henson — who also had an RBI double in the game — went 4 1-3 innings, giving up three hits, one walk and three earned runs while striking out three. Vernon pitched the final 2 2-3 innings, giving up three hits and two earned runs to earn the win.
“We started off with Natalie, and it was a planned switch to Mackenzie after two times through their lineup,” Campbell said. “Natalie and Mackenzie just complement each other really well as pitchers. Natalie and (catcher) Mel (Henson) have their own game, and then we’re able to switch it up and bring in Mackenzie.”
The home run didn’t knock the Trojans out of the game, though, as they started off the top of the seventh stil hot. Rainey Rohlfs bunted for a single to lead off and Alex Wilt drew a walk to put runners on first and second, then Dani Lade hit a pop to short left field that the Sidney shortstop dropped in the grass to apparently load the bases. But the umpires conferred and put the infield fly in effect, still allowing the Troy runners to move up to second and third even though the Yellowjackets had no chance of turning a double play on the dropped ball. And the next Trojan hitter popped out to first, putting the Trojans’ backs against the wall with two outs.
But Schreiber beat out an infield single to short to tie the score, and Sowers ripped an RBI single to center to score the eventual winning run.
“That’s what’s so awesome about these girls — it’s always different people coming through and showing that leadership in those big moments,” Campbell said. “They all work hard for their teammates, and they’re all very selfless players.
“Megan and Brittany showed a lot of maturity, going up there in that situation and mentally keeping their heads together.”
And on the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh, Vernon got the leadoff batter to foul out to Kylie Kiser behind the plate, who made a tough catch near the fence. On the second pitch, the next hitter lined out to a diving Pierce at third, and the third pitch was a popout to Sowers at first for a one-two-three finish to the thrilling game.
“You can’t ask for more than three popups on three pitches out of a pitcher,” Campbell said. “Kylie made a huge catch, and then Allison made a great catch on that line drive and Brittany took charge and put away the last out. We made three great plays to end the game.”
Troy faces Miami East in a tri at Northwestern Saturday.
Troy110 003 2 — 7 7 2
Sid201 012 0 — 6 7 4
N. Henson, Vernon (5) and M. Henson, Kiser (5). Shell and Lambdin. WP — Vernon. LP — Shell. 2B — N. Henson (T), Bates (S), Shell (S), Barker (S). HR — Raterman (S). Records: Troy 3-6, 2-2. Sidney 3-6, 0-4.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.