By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — After Monday’s 11-3 shellacking at the hands of division rival Tippecanoe, the Troy softball team did some soul-searching heading into Tuesday’s series finale.
And the Trojans found something.
After the Red Devils took a 3-0 lead through four innings, the Trojans answered with two in the sixth, two more in the seventh to take the lead and then a nine-run seventh inning rally to put away a 13-5 victory Tuesday at Tippecanoe Middle School as Troy earned a series split with Tippecanoe in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play.
“After yesterday’s game, nobody was in a good mood,” Troy coach Scott Beeler said as his team improved to 6-12 overall and 5-5 in the North. “Everybody was upset. But I told the girls when you make six or seven errors, this is what’s going to happen. And today’s score shows that, when you play a good, clean game, you don’t make mistakes and you hit the ball well, you’re going to win. That’s exactly what we did today. We showed how well we can play defensively.”
After the Devils fell to 14-5 overall and 8-3 in the division, their mood took a hit after how high they were soaring after Monday’s game.
“Honestly, I don’t know what to say right now,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Sutton said. “Troy was the better team today, and hats off to them. They buckled down and hit the ball. They hit the ball hard, they hit it well — and that’s what we didn’t do. And their pitcher was on her game tonight and threw a great game.”
“Maybe we came in overconfident. Confidence is not a bad thing, but you have to live up to it.”
On Monday, the Red Devils opened the series with an 11-3 win at Troy.
Tippecanoe only outhit the Trojans 11-10 in the game but made the most of their chances. Brooke Aselage and Corinn Siefring were both 2 for 4 with two RBIs, Kayla Runyon had two RBIs, Kaela May was 2 for 3 with an RBI, Brooke Silcox was 2 for 4 with an RBI and Alayna Liskey drove in a run.
Runyon went the distance on the mound, allowing only three runs on 10 hits and a walk with three strikeouts, leaving eight Trojans stranded on base.
For Troy, Paige Nadolny was 4 for 4 with three doubles and all three RBIs and Megan Malott was 3 for 3 with three runs scored. Erica Keenan took the loss, allowing 11 runs, eight earned, on 11 hits and nine walks while striking out three.
“Yesterday was obviously a better game,” Sutton said. “We pitched well, we hit well and we played defense well. We were making the plays we were supposed to and maybe even some we shouldn’t have. We laid off the bad strikes and hit the good ones, and it showed. And today was the total opposite.”
Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Trojans shook their lineup up a little bit — but by the end of the day, everyone was involved in some way.
“We wanted to do something different,” Beeler said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to make a change to get you that extra oomph. The girls were great today. We were hitting the ball last night, but everybody started hitting tonight. To come back from an 11-3 loss and win like this, that’s absolutely huge.”
Tippecanoe still began Tuesday strong. After Troy starter Keenan and Tippecanoe starter Savannah Wead held each other’s teams scoreless through three and a half, the Devils jumped ahead in the bottom of the fourth.
Liskey and Runyon hit back-to-back singles to lead off, and an error on a stolen base attempt allowed the game’s first run to score. Siefring then rocked an RBI double off the left-field fence and eventually scored on a wild pitch, giving the Devils a 3-0 lead.
But in the top of the fifth, Troy began its comeback march.
Lexi Piper struck out swinging but reached base to lead off, then a walk and a hit-batter loaded the bases. Nadolny stayed hot, ripping an RBI single back up the middle, and an RBI sac fly by pinch hitter Tia Bass cut Tippecanoe’s lead to one.
The Trojans then took the lead in the top of the sixth. Pinch hitter Ella Furlong reached on an error to lead off and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, then pinch hitter Skylar Kline hit an RBI double off the base of the right-center fence to tie the score. Keenan followed with a single and Megan Malott drove in Kline with an RBI groundout to gibe Troy a 4-3 advantage.
And in the top of the seventh, the Trojans put it away for good. Briana Lavender, Bass, Jaiden Hunt and Furlong hit four straight singles, with Hunt and Furlong both driving in runs to chase relief pitcher Emma Miller and bring back on Wead. But an error brought in another run, and an RBI groundout by Keenan made the score 8-3 with one runner still on base and two outs. A walk, a wild pitch and a two-run single by Nadolny later, the Trojans were still in business, and the bases eventually were loaded up for Hunt, who drove a bases-clearing triple to the right-center gap to make the score 13-3 before the Devils finally got out of the inning.
Tippecanoe went down swinging, too. Siefring was hit by a pitch and Wead singled, then Kaitlyn Husic and Silcox hit back-to-back RBI singles with two outs to make the score 13-5. Liskey reached base on a bunt before Keenan finally induced a popout in foul territory to Bass at first base to end the game.
All told for Tippecanoe, Sidney Unger was 2 for 3, Liskey was 2 for 4, Siefring doubled and had one RBI and Husic and Silcox each drove in a run. Wead took the loss, giving up nine runs — two earned — on nine hits, four walks and four strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings, with Miller giving up four earned runs on five hits in 2-3 of an inning.
Still, the Devils hold a two-game edge on Piqua in the race for second place with four GWOC American North games remaining.
“I don’t think it will hurt us as far as the standings go, but it’s just disappointing. And the girls are disappointed, too,” Sutton said. “It’s disappointing in how we performed. We know we’re a very good team, but today was not a good day for us. And again, Troy played very well.”
For Troy, which remained tied with Butler for last place, 2.5 games back of the Devils with five division games remaining, Keenan struck out three, walked three, hit a batter and gave up five earned runs on nine hits in a complete game for the win. And offensively, Hunt was 3 for 5 with a double, a triple and four RBIs, Nadolny was 2 for 5 with three RBIs, Bass was 2 for 3 with an RBI, Lavender was 2 for 4, Kline doubled and had an RBI and Furlong, Keenan and Malott each had one RBI.
“I still believe we can finish second or third,” Beeler said. “We’ve just got to minimize our errors. But the girls know that and are working hard — and I’ll never give up on this team.”
Both teams are back in action Thursday, with Troy hosting Butler in another GWOC American North matchup and Tippecanoe hosting county rival Milton-Union in a non-league matchup.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.