When Northwest coach Merri Copeland made a defensive change late in Game 2 of the Grizzlies' doubleheader with Bishop Carroll, there was a near immediate change with her team.
Even though it wasn't a strategic change to bring Megan Putman in for Kaci Copeland in left field during the bottom of the sixth inning, the Grizzlies appeared to relax with their five-run lead.
"I make one change and they all think, 'Oh, we have this in the bag,' " Merri Copeland said. "But we don't ever have anything in the bag."
Carroll nearly made the Grizzlies pay, too, scoring four runs off five hits in the inning.
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But Northwest hung on to win 5-4. Northwest swept Carroll, winning Game 1 6-0.
Northwest is 12-0 in City League play and has doubleheaders remaining against North and East. The victory over Carroll was a major hurdle for Northwest in winning the league title outright.
"It was real important," Copeland said of the wins. "Every year we've split with them and shared (league) with them, so it was important. We were nervous, Carroll was nervous."
In the first game, Northwest pitcher Kelsey Berlin walked five batters but allowed just three hits. The Eagles had 10 baserunners and only reached third once.
"Offensively I think we did a decent job in the first game; it just didn't happen," said Carroll coach Angie Dal Pozzo, whose team is 12-2 in the City League. "We executed our bunts well, which I was excited about, but we didn't get runs across."
Northwest took advantage of Carroll's six errors with Berlin scoring three times — she reached on two errors and scored on two errors. She also had an RBI double.
In Game 2, Northwest pitcher Mac Millspaugh had five strikeouts in the first three innings. And the Grizzlies' bats came through.
Berlin had a solo homer in the fifth for the 2-0 lead. In the sixth inning, Carroll pitcher Amber Chrisman walked three straight to start the inning. She was replaced by Kelsey Jones. Kaci Copeland hit an RBI single and Millspaugh followed with a two-RBI single for the 5-0 lead.
Carroll had its best chance to take Northwest in the sixth when Millspaugh struggled.
"My spins weren't working throughout the game, and I was throwing over the plate," she said.
Carroll had RBI doubles from Jones, Chelsea Carvalho and Sarah Balderas, as well as an RBI single from Erica Hampton.
But in the seventh, Millspaugh struck out two and set Carroll down in order to finish the game.
"In the last inning, I started to get kind of mad, so I started thinking one pitch at a time," she said.
Northwest 200 001 3 — 6 8 0 Bishop Carroll 000 000 0 — 0 3 6
Northwest 001 013 0 — 5 6 0 Bishop Carroll 000 004 0 — 4 7 1
W—Millspaugh. L—Chrisman. HR—NW, Berlin.