By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — With the wind blowing in, it seemed like the elements would potentially slow down the Troy softball team’s potent offense.
But the Trojans have a force of nature of their own.
Tia Bass clobbered a three-run home run to the opposite field, a no-doubter that broke up a tie game in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday against Xenia, and Erica Keenan and the defense shut the door from there in a 7-4 Trojan victory Friday at Market Street Diamond in Greater Western Ohio Conference American League crossover play.
Bass, a junior, finished the game 2 for 4 with the homer and four RBIs. According to the GWOC website, it was her second home run of the season, and the performance gave her 22 RBIs on the season, which would put her in the lead in the GWOC.
But going into the day, the prospects of hitting one out didn’t look good for anyone with a strong wind blowing in from right field.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to get a home run today because of the wind,” Bass said. “It felt good to know that I could still get that, even with the wind, and help the team.”
“That was a shot,” Beeler said. “I don’t know how far past the fence it landed, but that was a shot. Tia’s been hot. I think she was 8 for her last 8 coming in.
“When we first got here, the wind was blowing directly across the field. It was blowing enough that it was messing with the outfielders, and I think both teams were struggling on fly balls. We told the girls before the game to be ready for that ball to move.”
In fact, Bass only got the chance to bat in that fourth inning because of a wind-aided error.
With Troy (4-11, 3-4 GWOC American North Division) down 4-3 entering the bottom of the fourth, Hannah Setser and Megan Malott hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. After the runners moved up to second and third with two outs, Bri Lavender hit a high popup to short. The ball swirled in the air, though, and the shortstop dropped it to score the tying run, making it a 4-4 game and bringing up Bass.
It was one of five Xenia (7-5, 2-3 GWOC American South) errors on the day — four of them dropped pops or fly balls.
“We got some breaks that went our way,” Beeler said. “I preach that we’ve got to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes. You hate to see the other team make those mistakes, but we’ve got to take advantage of them when we can. Especially when you’re playing a good team like Xenia. With good pitching and good hitting, you’ve got to make sure you’re taking advantage of those little errors.”
Bass, meanwhile, had been waiting not-so-patiently in the on-deck circle, just hoping to get a chance.
“You get that energy and adrenaline going … just let me get that chance to hit it. Let me help my team,” Bass said. “You just want to help the team so much.”
And that she did, launching the ball over the fence in left-center for a three-run homer to put Troy on top 7-4.
The game didn’t start nearly as well for the Trojans, though.
Xenia got three runs in the top of the first to take an early lead. Bailey Oliver walked and Makenna Carr bunted for a single, then Caity Moody blooped in an RBI single to bring in the game’s first run. An RBI groundout by Sydney Smith added to that lead, and a run scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0 in a hurry.
But Beeler, who said earlier this week that the Trojans’ nemesis this year has been one bad inning per game defensively, could handle only three.
“At least it was as bad as some of them have been. It was something we could manage,” Beeler said. “I asked Erica if she was okay after that first inning, she said she was fine but (catcher) Paige (Nadolny), her legs were a little stiff. I don’t think the confidence was there, but once Paige loosened up, she pitched well.
“Xenia’s a good team. We knew that coming in. I’ve talked to a few coaches, and they told me to be ready for Moody. She can hit the ball, and she can throw it, too. She can bring it. “
Troy answered back with two runs in the bottom of the second. Bass reached on a dropped fly ball and Jaiden Hunt singled, then Ella Furlong blooped in an RBI single to put the Trojans on the board. A two-out throwing error off the bat of Megan Malott brought in another run, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
The teams each tallied a run in the third. Xenia got an RBI single by Morgan Huffman and was threatening to score more before Troy second baseman Josie Rohlfs turned a 4-3 double play to end the inning, and the Trojans again responded in the bottom of the inning with Bri Lavender reaching on a three-base error on another dropped fly ball in the outfield and Bass driving her in with a single to make it 4-3 — setting up Bass’ heroics the next inning.
Furlong was the only other Trojan with multiple hits in the game, going 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Nadolny hit a double. For Xenia on the mound, Moody didn’t give up an earned run in the game, allowing 11 hits and walking none while striking out four.
Keenan went the distance on the mound, allowing six hits, three walks and one hit-batter while striking out six. She also got a boost from Hunt in right field, who threw out a runner at home plate for the final out of the fifth inning.
“This was a big win,” Bass said. “Us going to Tennessee (earlier this season) and playing harder teams, we’re just proving to ourselves that we’re a good team, not the team our record shows. Us getting this win helps a lot.”
Troy is now off until Thursday when it hosts Stebbins.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.