Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kaylee McElvain's Sac Fly Gives Tigers Walkoff Win Over Albany

It was something out of the Royals' playbook over the last few years. Worth County had an epic back and forth match with archrival Albany and came out on top thanks to some timely hitting and opportunistic baserunning 6-5. The euphoria of the first few games of the season, where Worth County had won the North Harrison Tournament and beaten Todd Simmons' new squad, had worn off. They had every reason to expect a win over Maryville, who had fallen to North Nodaway 6-3, but were instead lit up 17-2 in three innings. Having to play Stanberry the next night, they played a really good game against last year's district champs, but came up short in the last inning 6-5 despite playing errorless ball. They then were worn down by the long road trip to Braymer and fell again 10-3 to the Bobcats.

Now they had to play against Albany, no easy task given their small, speedy players and their new pitcher, Madalyn Rainey, whose breaking ball was one of the better ones Worth County had seen all year. She had a fastball and a drop ball as well. But the Tigers kept battling back all night. Albany scored the first run of the game when Rainey helped herself out with a walk, stole second, and came home on Maryeah Martin's single. But with one out, Sidney Troutwine doubled past leftfielder Paige Brown into the corner and came home on Hailey Hunt's single to tie it up at 1.

Once again, Albany went out in front as Lauryn Shoush's pop fly landed in no-man's land behind pitcher Hailey Hunt and she was safe. Rainey tripled into the right field corner and scored on Martin's sac fly to make it 3-1. Albany looked like they would be in control, but once again Worth County came back as Payton Adwell's one out walk and stolen base got them going. Sidney Troutwine's line shot got past short into left; Adwell had to hold up to avoid being doubled off, but made it to third as Troutwine took second on Brown's throwing error. Anna Gladstone was called out on strikes, but Hailey Hunt, after getting down 0-2, came back to 2-2 and roped a triple into the left field corner to bring them both home to tie it up again.

Nobody could break through in the next two innings. Worth County had a golden opportunity in the fifth as Anna Gladstone, who had trouble corralling Rainey's breaking stuff the first two times up, roped a triple on the first pitch that sliced away from Heidi Fish in right with nobody out. But they couldn't get her home as Hailey Hunt popped out, Kennedy Galanakis struck out, and Rachael Gardner grounded out. Worth County went down quietly with its first two batters in the sixth, but then their number nine batter, Kristin New, walked on a 3-2 count and the sleeping Tiger woke. Payton Adwell turned on Rainey's first pitch and roped it fair down the left field line and into the corner for a double as New scored all the way from first to break the 3-3 tie. Sidney Troutwine hit a single just past Riley Houts at second and Adwell came home to make it 5-3 after six.

It looked like Worth County had it won, but then Riley Houts led off with a perfect bunt and beat it out to lead off as the heart of the Albany order was coming up. Maryeah Martin got a scratch hit off shortstop Sidney Troutwine's glove that squirted away. Amber Davis came up next and hit the ball hard but right at leftfielder Dominique Findley for the first out. Taylor Bain hit a grounder to Hailey Hunt, but her attempt to force Houts at third was in the dirt and got away from Merrideth Spiers as Houts scored, Martin came to third, and Bain went to second. That brought up second and third with nobody out and Worth County still up 5-4. The lower part of the order was coming up, but Abbey Wilson, who had not done anything up to that point, hit a shot off Rachael Gardner's glove at first. All Gardner could do was recover the ball and get the out at first as Martin crossed the plate to tie it at 5. Kaylynn Harris walked after being down in the count 0-2, but then Hailey Hunt struck out Hannah Groves on a 3-2 count to get out of the inning with the score still tied.

Hailey Hunt led off the bottom of the second and beat out a scratch hit off Rainey's glove to Amber Davis at third; by the time she came up with it, she had no play. Hailey took off for second and catcher Abbey Wilson's throw was in plenty of time to get her, but Hunt somehow eluded the tag and was safe. She took third on a wild pitch and Kennedy Galanakis walked on a 3-2 count and stole second. Rachael Gardner struck out for the first out, but Kaylee McElvain turned on the first pitch and hit a fly ball down the left field line that didn't even leave the dirt. Kaylynn Harris came a long ways over to make the catch in left and it seemed too shallow for Hailey Hunt to make the attempt to score, but she tagged up and took off anyway. Harris' throw was high and Hunt dove in safe under Wilson's tag as Albany lodged an unsuccessful appeal play.

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