7th-inning comeback lifts Jets to sectional title

Haylin Campbell

By Rob Deweese

For The Republic

BROWNSTOWN — After defeating Milan during the regular season by a score of 15-2 in five innings, it would have been easy for Hauser to mentally already have a spot reserved in its trophy case for the softball sectional championship trophy before playing the actual game.

It is a good thing the Jets guarded against that. They had to come from behind in their final at-bat to squeak out a 10-9 victory, claiming their third consecutive sectional title, their first in class 2A.

“That was a 100% different Milan team than we played during the regular season. They did not throw their No. 1 pitcher the first time around, and it was a great strategy. Hats off to them,” Hauser coach Andy Brunner said.

The end of the season looked very near for the Jets entering the bottom of the seventh. Milan, which was trailing 6-4 entering the its last at-bat, never conceded. The Indians’ Nevaeh Carpenter led off the inning with an infield hit. Karsyn Bode then came to the plate, already having hit a double and triple in her previous at-bats. This time, she grounded to Hauser pitcher Paige McDaniel for what looked to be a tailor-made double play. McDaniel, however, thew the ball into center field, and both runners were safe.

That was followed by two singles, a double and a walk, and suddenly, Milan had plated five runs to take a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

“I was not as sharp as I was (Wednesday) night (in a semifinal win against Brownstown Central),” McDaniel said. “I was a bit fatigued, and they hit the ball well. But I always have confidence in my teammates to pick me up, and they did in a big way tonight.”

It was Hauser senior Hannah Taylor who regained some momentum for the Jets in their final at bat. She grounded a ball softly to first and beat the throw with a head-first dive to start the inning. Taylor, who ended the night with three hits, had confidence in her teammates to move her around.

“We have played together for a very long time,” Taylor said. “I knew that if I got on, my teammates would come through for us, and that is what they did.”

Hannah Taylor

Taylor’s hit was followed by consecutive hits by Kyra Meister, McDaniel and Maley Jordan, and the comeback was in full swing. A Kylie Mack groundout to shortstop plated the tying run, making it 9-9 with two outs and Jordan standing on third.

Haylin Campbell then came to the plate and singled home Jordan to give the Jets the come-from-behind victory and sectional championship.

“Hannah is a natural born leader,” Brunner said. “Her teammates look up to her and absorb everything she does. It showed in her play tonight.”

“This team just trusts each other no matter what. We have faith in what we are doing, and I am glad I was able to come through for them,” Campbell said.

The game was relatively even before the final inning scoring barrage. Milan jumped on top with a run in the top of the second, but a three-run outburst by the Jets gave them the lead back heading into the third, highlighted by a two-run double from Jordan.

The Indians answered back with a pair of runs in the third and the scored was tied at 3-3 until Milan scored a run in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Reagan Johnson put Hauser back on top with a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Jets a 6-4 lead before the fireworks of the final inning ensued.

“We were just good enough to get the job done, but we also got our eyes opened some tonight. We can’t come in relaxed to any game. We have to be ready to go. We were asleep at the wheel early tonight, but we were able to escape. We had a lot of good reminders tonight moving forward,” Brunner said.

Paige McDaniel

McDaniel and Jordan finished 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, and Taylor went 3 for 4 with a double. Meister and Campbell each went 2 for 4, and Johnson had three RBIs.

McDaniel went the distance for Hauser, giving up seven earned runs, striking out five and walking three. She also earned her 60th career victory.