Bull Dogs get pitching gem from Scruggs, edge East in 10 innings

Columbus North shortstop Kelsey Lovelace celebrates after turning a double play during Monday’s game against Columbus East at Southside Elementary.

Tommy Walker | For The Republic

The 163rd pitches of Bailee Scruggs’ and Hermione Robinson’s evenings yielded hard-hit ground balls, but vastly different results.

With runners on second and third with two out in the top of the 10th inning at Columbus North, Columbus East’s Savanna Sullivan hit a grounder off Scruggs in the hole between short and third. Bull Dog shortstop Kelsey Lovelace made a backhand stab and fired a laser to first base to just get the speedy Sullivan.

Then with nobody out and a runner on second in the bottom of the 10th, Robinson got Payton Morris hit a hard grounder, but it got through for an error, and Morgan Jarvis raced home with the winning run to give North a 2-1 softball victory on Monday.

“I knew the next inning was our inning, having Morgan, Payton and Bailee up, so I knew I had to make the play and set the momentum up for the next inning,” Lovelace said. “I’m just proud of us all.”

Scruggs was the hero of the evening. She threw nine no-hit innings before giving up a single to Mackenzie Hampton leading off the 10th. Raegyn Foster laid down a sacrifice bunt, Ariel Darnell took third on a wild pitch, and with two out, Natasha Armstrong walked and stole second, setting up Lovelace’s defensive gem.

“Honestly, when you have a team like this behind your back that fights for you at every inning, every second, you have to do what you’re able to do,” Scruggs said. “Adrenaline was carrying me.”

Morgan Jarvis led off the bottom of the 10th with a single to center. After she stole second, Morris came through.

“I didn’t previously, so I knew I just had to walk up there and get a hit,” Morgan Jarvis said. “Then once I got on, I knew I could steal, and Payton could hit me in.”

“It felt pretty great,” Morris added. “When you watch all your teammates running at you in the middle of the field, that’s one feeling I’ll probably never forget.”

Morris, who is the ace pitcher for the Bull Dogs (3-1), was planning to relieve Scruggs in the fourth or fifth inning. But Morris sprained an MCL sliding into home plate with the game’s first run on a Scruggs single with two out in the first.

Morris stayed in the game at third base, but she was unable to pitch.

“It was all adrenaline,” Morris said. “If I broke my ankle, I wouldn’t come out of the game. I’m just that type of player. I want to play. If I’m not playing, I feel like I’m letting them down.”

North coach TJ Jarvis said if the game would have gone to the 11th inning, Lovelace would have taken over for Scruggs in the circle.

“We knew we had to do it right then and there,” TJ Jarvis said. “We said in the dugout we had to get the leadoff batter on base, and we had to knock her in. It’s the fight. They continue to fight. They’ve played one game in 15 days (because of rainouts), and they came out here and kept fighting.”

The Olympians (6-4) scored their run in the fourth. Baleigh Fish led off with a walk, and pinch-runner Lilly Tindell took second and third on wild pitches and scored on a groundout by Robinson.

Scruggs struck out 11 and walked six.

“We just didn’t execute offensively,” East coach Rusty Brummett said. “One hit in 10 innings is not going to win. We were fortunate that Hermione pitched such a good ballgame because if you only muster up one hit in 10 innings, you’re not going to win too many ballgames. Bailee Scruggs is a nice pitcher, but we just didn’t execute a few times. I like the way we battled. As soon as we start figuring out how to execute a few things, we’ll be pretty good.”

Robinson also was effective in the circle. She threw an eight-hitter, striking out 13 and not walking a batter.

Scruggs and Robinson both threw 163 pitches.

“(Robinson) threw eight innings and 140-some pitches on Saturday against Mt. Vernon,” Brummett said. “She’s just a tough kid. She works hard at her craft. She does a good job. She’s a fit kid. She doesn’t take pitches off. She battles when she’s in the circle, and she doesn’t mess around between pitches. She gets the ball, and she’s ready to pitch.”

Scruggs was the lone Bull Dog with multiple hits, going 2 for 4 at the plate.

“Losing is never fun, and losing is never good enough,” Brummett said. “Closing the gap is nice, but we didn’t come over here to close the gap. We came over here to win.

“I like our progress,” he added. “I like where we are. Defensively, we had a couple of miscues. We’re doing some stuff right, and we’re not ready to throw in the towel. We’re 6-4, and we have a tough week. It doesn’t get any easier playing Floyd Central (Wednesday). Then we have Jennings County (Thursday), then we have Shelbyville (Friday), then we have two against Franklin (Saturday), so our week does not get any easier.”