It looked like the Columbus North softball team was well on its way to another easy victory after five innings leading 4-1.
But after falling behind Brownstown Central in the sixth inning, the Bull Dogs rallied to send the game to extra innings, then pulled out a 6-5 win in the ninth.
With two outs already in the sixth inning, North committed a costly error on a routine play that allowed a run to score. With the inning extended because of the error, Brownstown chalked up three more runs on two additional singles to go ahead 5-4.
Senior second baseman Denisa Brooks thought she had let her team down with the crucial mistake.
“I kept thinking to myself ‘Did I really just do that?’” Brooks said. “I never make mistakes like that, but I was glad we came together as a team.”
North coach Jerry Burton had a message for them when they came back to the dugout, “Do you guys really want to lose on senior day?”
Burton’s message was well received in the bottom of the sixth when senior Grayson Harney hit a solo home run to tie the game at 5-5.
In the ninth, Brooks finally got the opportunity to redeem herself from her mistake. She led off the inning with a single and scored the game-winning run off of a Christine Bombardiere double.
“Grayson’s big hit in the sixth inning was huge for our team because we were down mentally a little bit after giving up the lead,” Burton said. “That hit got their confidence back up and they were able to pull through.”
“I just knew coming up to the plate that I had to find a way to try to get another run,” Harney said. “When the pitch came, I swung at the ball, and I hit it just hard enough to tie the game.”
“I know that we are a team that never gives up,” North senior Shannah Hercamp said. “I had a feeling Grayson would come through there with the hit because she comes through in those situations. Once in extra innings, I was glad we came together and got the win.”
Brownstown coach Monte Ault praised his starting pitcher, Kourtney Branaman, for going the full nine innings despite the loss.
“Kourtney pitched one of her best games of the season,” Ault said. “She did a good job keeping them off balance at times. She was mixing her change-up pitches and threw good rise balls every once in a while.”
The Bull Dogs (15-8) took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Braves tied the game in the second with a Katelyn Gray solo homer. North started the fifth with a Brooks single.
Katie Prall was then hit by a pitch, and Bombardiere laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Brooks and Prall to third and second, respectively. Kelsay Lucas stepped up to the plate and blasted a three-run homer to make it 4-1.
Bull Dogs players, coaches, and fans had a ceremony honoring the four seniors on the team after the conclusion of the game.
“Even though Marissa’s (Anderson) role was different than our other three seniors, she was still able to help us out in other ways during the season,” Burton said. “Grayson has really stepped it up all season with her pitching and it helped us out a ton. Denisa is a hard worker, and it shows because she is having a terrific year so far. Shannah is one person you can count on getting that hit whenever it was needed.
“All four of them were huge for our success this season and I’m proud to have coached each and every one of them,” he said.