That all changed in the fifth inning when the Raiders took advantage of a mistake that led to the game‘s lone run, taking down the Mustangs 1-0 in the final Northern 4A league game of the spring.
“Any win is a good win, especially in a close game where you’re pushed,” Reed softball coach Jon Wunder said. “It’s the last game going into the playoffs, so we couldn’t ask for anything better. The win was great. We just wanted to play well.”
Through four innings, Reed managed one hit off Damonte pitcher Kalyn Paque, a leadoff single by senior Cori Gammon to start the contest.
Since half of Reed’s outs in the first four innings were in the air, the Raiders attempted a different strategy in the fifth frame.
To start the top of the fifth, sophomore Marriah Levesque dropped down a bunt. It was fielded cleanly by Damonte first baseman Jahnel Smith, but her underhand toss to first was off the mark and Levesque reached safely.
Lindsey Yearman attempted to sacrifice Levesque to second, but the Raiders lucked out when Mustang third baseman Bayli West tried to make a diving grab of Yearman’s bunt. The bunt likely would have spun into foul territory, but it bounced off West’s glove while she was in fair territory. The single gave Reed runners on first and second, and they both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.
With one out, Gammon worked her way into a full count. She fouled off a couple pitches and then sliced a sinking liner into shallow left field, driving in Levesque.
“We wanted to put pressure on them. We hit a lot of balls in the air, but we were hitting them hard,” Wunder said. “We recognized the defense was a little deep. We’ve been working on bunting in practice a lot and we executed. When you put pressure on them, good things happen.”
That one run was good enough as sophomore Megan Dettling tossed a four-hit shutout and was perfect in four of the seven innings. Dettling struck out seven and walked two.
However, Damonte threatened in the first two innings, putting runners on the corners, only to leave them in that position in both innings.
The Mustangs then went down in order in the third, fourth and fifth frames before appearing to have a good opportunity to push across the game-tying run in the sixth.
Adelle Oaks led off the bottom of the sixth with a single up the middle. A sacrifice bunt moved her up to second.
Kerrigan Travens hit a grounder to shortstop and Oaks appeared like she could make it to third. But as shortstop Laura Frost made the throw to third, Oaks stopped within sliding distance of the base and reversed direction. Oaks was tagged out as she dove back into second base.
A walk gave Damonte runners on first and second, but Dettling ended the inning with her seventh strikeout.
“Four hits against a team like Damonte, that’s awesome,” Wunder said of his hurler’s performance. “We’ll celebrate this win over the weekend, but the real season starts Monday. The defense didn’t make an error, we executed on offense and we got a solid pitching performance. You’re going to win games when you do that.”
Only three Raiders got hits off Paque. Gammon and Yearman both went 2-for-3 against the Mustangs ace.
Reed (26-4, 19-1 in Northern 4A) is the North’s top seed for next week’s regional tournament.