By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
Head Coach Curt Storts said it was only a matter of time before Addie Slone’s big bat broke through.
With Monday night’s come-from-behind victory over Columbian, it was only a matter of time before the Lady Flashes broke through, as well.
Slone drove a two-out first-pitch RBI-double to deep right-centerfield, scoring Brandy Mizer, who reached on a looping double just one batter earlier, with the winning run in a 4-3 final against the Lady Tornadoes at the Willard Athletic Complex.
“Addie has one of the best swings on the team,” said Storts. “The numbers may not have shown it coming in, but she always gives us quality at-bats and I’m glad she was aggressive on that pitch.”
It was the appropriate ending for Willard (4-10, 2-5) on a night where fielding miscues, base-running mistakes and unfortunate breaks all seemed to go against the Lady Flashes. Slone was called out on a borderline third strike with two outs and two runners in scoring position in her previous at-bat in the fifth.
She left nothing up for judgment in the seventh, as she got all of the Macy Allen delivery, for what she noted was the biggest hit she’s had this season.
“It’s just good for us to get another win,” said Slone. “This was a big confidence boost for us.”
The Lady Flashes were able to maintain their focus in a number of tough situations and eventually turned trouble into outs. Aubrey Mathias shook off a drop at first to fire a strike to second base in the same sequence to nail Columbian’s Miranda Stallard for for a key out in the fourth.
Stallard was victimized again in the sixth, after she drove a ball through the wind and over the head of a retreating and diving Mizer in center. What looked to be a sure double turned into the third out of the inning, as Mizer popped up from her dive, wheeled and fired a strike to second to nail the sliding Stallard.
“Coach (Storts) said that nothing was going to get hit over my head, and then, Bang, they hit one over my head,” said Mizer with a smile. “I just had to stay with it and make a good throw. I’m glad I could pick up Coach Storts on that one.”
Willard fell into a 3-0 hole in the third inning, as two of their six errors on the night led to three unearned runs against pitcher Emily Stephens, who improved to 3-3 on the season. Columbian (5-7, 0-4) scored without the benefit of a hit in the first inning. A drop on a potential caught stealing scenario at second base allowed a two-out run to score and Ava Sarka followed with an RBI-double to open up a three-run cushion.
“We talk all the time about how mistakes are going to happen, but that it’s how you respond to them that leads to success,” said Storts. “We made our share of mistakes tonight, even us as coaches, and the girls picked us and each other up.”
The Lady Flashes scratched across single tallies in the third and fourth. Madie Secor singled and scored on an RBI-single by Stephens to get Willard on the board in the third. Mizer led off the fourth with a walk and eventually scored on a throwing error by Columbian on a ground ball hit by Breighton Hershiser.
The errors that had befuddled Willard came back to haunt the Lady Tornadoes in the bottom of the sixth, as a pair of defensive miscues by Columbian led to courtesy runner, Hannah Williams, crossing the plate with the game-tying run.
Stephens finished the game with five strikeouts and two walks, allowing just three base hits over seven innings of work. She also had two of Willard’s seven hits.
“We’re on a roll and we want to stay on a roll,” said Mizer, who reached base in all four of her plate appearances. “We have to keep doing it as a team.”
Willard 3, West. Reserve 2
West. Reserve 7, Willard 6
The Lady Flashes split Saturday’s twin bill in Collins, riding strong pitching by Stephens (7 IP, one earned run, four hits, four K’s) and a two-run double by Jena Adams in the opening win.
Willard rallied all the way back from a 6-0 deficit in the finale to tie Western Reserve in the seventh. Ashlee Tuttle had three hits and three RBI and Emily Nedolast added two hits and two RBI.
WHS JV’s improve to 9-3
Kaiten Weiss and Kourtney Craft each had four hits and Makayla Schiffel improved her pitching record to 8-1 in Willard’s 10-1 junior varsity win over Columbian.
The Lady Flashes (5-1 in the NOL) were coming off a weekend split with Plymouth, winning 11-1 and dropping a 5-4 decision.Schiffel and Alexis McDaniel each pitched three strong innings in the Willard run-rule win.