Bull Dogs rally for dramatic walk-off win, improve to 2-0

Columbus North coach TJ Jarvis congratulates Kelsey Lovelace after she scored the winning run in Saturday’s 10-9 win against Terre Haute South.

Ted Schultz | The Republic

After opening the softball season with a come-from-behind win Thursday at East Central, Columbus North took that approach to the extreme on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing 9-4 after five innings, the Bull Dogs rallied with four runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to pull out a 10-9 win against Terre Haute South in a game that could go a long way in deciding the Conference Indiana title.

“We just like the excitement and surprising our fans,” senior shortstop Kelsey Lovelace said. “Every inning we talked that our energy has to be up. We’re young. We’re going to make mistakes. It’s a brand new season, so we just have to keep our heads up and never give up. That’s all we can do at the end of the day.”

Kelsey Lovelace

Lovelace is the lone senior on a young North team that played three juniors and six sophomores. That team was plagued by two fielding errors and a few other defensive mistakes that led to the Braves (0-5, 0-1) scoring four times in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth.

“We’re a young team,” North coach TJ Jarvis said. “We just have to learn to play defense seven innings. It’s hard to simulate those things in practices, so the more time we get on the field and get them reps, the better they’re going to get at it. We’ll get better as the season goes on that defensive side of the ball.”

The Bull Dogs (2-0, 1-0) began their comeback when they batted around in the sixth. With one out, Destinee Allman and Lovelace hit back-to-back doubles to plate one run. Then with two out, consecutive singles by Payton Morris and Summer Williams scored two more. After Miley McClellan was hit by a pitch, Lily Retz singled to drive in another run and cut the lead to 9-8.

After Bailee Scruggs retired Terre Haute South in order in the top of the seventh, Ali Wooten led off the bottom of the inning with a single and went to second on a passed ball. With one out, Lovelace grounded to third and reached when the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. Wooten went to third on the throw to first, and Lovelace took second on the throw back to third.

Morgan Jarvis then chopped a ball in front of the plate that was fielded by Braves pitcher Katie Cox. Wooten had broken for home, and the throw to third to try get her going back to third went into left field, allowing Wooten and Lovelace to score the tying and winning runs.

“That’s the way it happened on Thursday night, too,” TJ Jarvis said. “We fought ‘till the last inning. Stay positive and keep fighting. There’s no quit in them. They’re fighters. They’ll fight until the end. We told them in the huddle, no matter what that scoreboard says, just fight through the rest of the game. I’m really proud of them for the fight.”

North got off to a solid start. Lovelace led off the first with a single, went to third on a one-out single by Morris and came home when the defense was caught napping. Lovelace led off the third with a long home run that cleared the track behind the fence in straightaway center field.

“That felt great,” Lovelace said.

Morris opened with three perfect innings in the circle before running into trouble in the fourth.

Summer Williams

Lovelace went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and four runs scored to lead the Bull Dogs’ 13-hit attack. Williams, who began the game as the flex player, lined a pinch-hit two-run single in the fifth and finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs. Morris went 2 for 3, Wooten was 2 for 4 and Morgan Jarvis went 2 for 5.

North now will host last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, Roncalli, on Tuesday and defending sectional champion Shelbyville on Thursday.

“Next week is our two biggest rivals, I feel like, besides (Columbus) East, with Roncalli and Shelbyville,” Lovelace said. “So we’re really trying to get prepared for those games mentally and physically.”