Through the first six innings Friday night, the Maize and Northwest softball teams were each looking for that hit. That one, big hit at a critical time to spark some scoring.
Northwest had the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings, including once with one out, and failed to score. Maize left seven runners in scoring position, including runners at second and third twice.
“Basically, it boiled down to both teams left way more baserunners than they wanted,” Northwest coach Cody Stucky said.
In the top of the seventh, Maize got its crucial hit when catcher Lexi Eisenbart came through with a two-run double for the game-winning runs. Maize beat Northwest 3-1.
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The Eagles also beat Andover 13-1 and improved to 16-4, while Northwest beat Andover 8-2 and is 17-3.
“We just didn’t have the level of intensity that I’d like to see when we have runners in scoring position,” Maize coach Jenny Meirowsky said. “But we got the job done in the end. It’s something we’ll have to work on before the postseason.”
The seventh started with a groundout by center fielder Emily Griggs, Maize’s speediest player. But the Eagles didn’t flinch as pitcher Meg Grimes drew a walk and then shortstop Allie Jurgen beat out a bunt to put runners at first and second.
The pitch Northwest’s Alex Jennings threw to Eisenbart was outside.
“That’s not my best (pitch to hit),” Eisenbart said. “I’ve been in a slump and I just thought, ‘there’s runners on base, I have to do my job.’ It was a team effort. They got on base, too.”
While Jennings finished the inning by inducing two groundouts, Maize pitcher Meg Grimes continued what she had done over the previous two innings — she shut down Northwest.
Grimes faced nine batters over the final three innings.
“We’ve gotten big hits with bases loaded all season,” Stucky said. “ That’s a disappointing loss because, man, it was there.”
The only run Grimes gave up was off an RBI single by third baseman Maddie Daily in the fourth.
“They hit the first pitch every time,” Eisenbart said of Northwest’s hitting in the final three innings. “It was awesome. Meg did a great job. She threw really great curveballs, and her rises were working really well.”
Maize 3, Northwest 1
|Maize||000||010||2||—||3 8 0|
|Northwest||000||100||0||—||1 5 2|
W — Grimes. L — Jennings.
Maize 13, Andover 1
|Maize||160||42x||x||—||13 15 0|
|Andover||100||00x||x||—||1 4 2|
W — Randolph. L — Lesperance.
Northwest 8, Andover 2
|Northwest||000||530||0||—||8 10 1|
|Andover||010||100||0||—||2 1 3|
W — Henning. L — Lesperance.
Maize catcher Lexi Eisenbart
Maize pitcher Meg Grimes
Maize coach Jenny Meirowsky