Thursday, August 24, 2017

Shamrock Softball Can’t Get Over the Hump Against Platte Valley; Falls 5-3

Last year, North Harrison came close three times against Platte Valley, but couldn’t get over the hump. They finally fell to them in sectionals last year after beating Worth County in districts. Once again Tuesday night, North Harrison went up against the Eagles, allegedly in rebuilding mode. But once again, Platte Valley reloaded and knocked off North Harrison.

Coach Brandon Craig said he was proud of the hitting and the way they battled the whole game, but that the focus in upcoming games would be on getting more focused and making the routine plays.
The Eagles pitched Payton Craig as well as anyone this year, getting her to fly out right off the bat.
The second inning along with the sixth were the downfall for the Shamrocks. In the second, North Harrison let Josie Deen get on thanks to a throwing error to lead off. The rest of the inning was death by 1,000 cuts as Jefferson only hit two balls out of the infield, yet North Harrison could not get out of the frame until three runs were scored. Ashley Mattson hit the one solid hit that Platte Valley had, putting runners on first and third.

North Harrison nearly caught a break on the next play as Ashley Riley (running for Deen) got caught off third in a double steal situation and was tagged out in a rundown for the first out. Mattson alertly made it all the way to third for Platte Valley, but It looked like they might get out of it.

But the torture by 1,000 cuts was just beginning. Laylin LaMaster hit a pop fly just out of the reach of second baseman Mason Cracraft to score Mattson. Payton Craig, who was a human wall on the mound, fielding a lot of hard-hit balls that might have gone into center field, threw one away, putting runners on first and third. Mikayla Mattson stole second and then LaMaster came home on a wild pitch to make it 2-0. Then, shortstop Brandi Rivet threw one away to score Mattson to make it 3-0.

A lot of times, when you give Platte Valley an inch, they take a mile; however, North Harrison battled back for the rest of the game and hit the ball hard all night long, but right at people. Mason Cracraft doubled one off the left center field wall to start the fourth. Emma Craig popped out, but Audrey Briggs doubled off the right field wall to score Crafraft to make it 3-1. North Harrison would have made it closer, but Ashlynn Gilpatrick’s screamer was hit right at center fielder Mikayla Mattson, and Sally Briggs’ short pop, which normally would have dropped in, was caught again by Mattson.

In the fifth, North Harrison had a great chance to score but couldn’t capitalize. Kami Gibson led off with a fly ball just beyond Kaylin LaMaster’s grasp for a double. Carly Rinehart’s sac bunt moved her over to third, but Payton Craig’s fly ball was not deep enough to bring her home. Gibson tried to come home on a wild pitch, but it didn’t roll far enough away and she was out at the plate to end the inning.

North Harrison finally got a run back when Brandi Rivet walked to lead off the sixth. Mason Cracraft hit a pop fly behind second and a rare Platte Valley miscue happened when nobody called it and a catchable ball dropped in behind second untouched. Rivet was able to scramble to second in time to avoid the force. Emma Craig moved them over to third with a sac bunt, but Audry Briggs popped out to Malia Collins at short for the second out. Ashlynn Gilpatrick shot one up the middle to score one run to make it 3-2 and Sally Briggs hit a screamer that looked headed for extra bases. But the right fielder made a running catch to end the threat.

It looked like North Harrison had all the momentum, but an umpire’s ruling change that. Stephanie Chor popped out and Josie Deen flied out to start. Payton Craig had two strikes on Ashley Mattson and Mattson bit on Craig’s riser for what should have been strike three, as her wrist broke and the bat came across the plate. But the umpire ruled no swing, Mattson was on first instead of the dugout, and Kaylin LaMaster promptly homered to make it 5-2.

North Harrison kept battling in the seventh as Kami Gibson got her second extra base hit, doubling off the left field wall. Rinehart singled just past Malia Collins at short to put runners at first and third. Rinehart took off for second on a first and third play; normally, teams don’t contest that, but Jefferson threw down there and got her out stealing. Payton Craig’s pop fly single dropped in to score and she went to second on a wild pitch. But then Rivet popped out to Collins and Mason Cracraft grounded out.

North Harrison’s JV won the nightcap 7-6, holding on after building a five run lead. Kenna Slaughter singled in Hunter Stevens and Carly Rinehart in the first inning to make it 2-0. They added to it in the second as Olivia Babinski, Rainey Fordyce, Kylie Pottorff, and Lola Breshears all singled to score two runs and Hunter Stevens singled to bring in another.

Platte Valley scored three in the second to make it 5-3, but Breshears grounded out in the fifth to score Babinski and Ashlynn Gilpatrick reached on an error to score Fordyce with some badly needed insurance runs.

Carly Rinehart pitched the first two innings for North Harrison. Ashlynn Gilpatrick pitched the next two, while Emma Craig finished up for North Harrison.

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