SOFTBALL: See-saw 7th: Lady Eagles lose lead, get it right back in dramatic walk-off win over Knights

Fifteen minutes after the conclusion of Wednesday’s Youngsville vs. Eisenhower softball game at Youngsville High School, Eagles coach Ron Jameson asked Katie Gustafson to write down the uniform numbers of the team’s JV players.

When Gustafson returned, she apologized to her coach if the numbers were unreadable. After all, her hands were still shaking with excitement.

Gustafson’s two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the seventh inning scored the tying and winning run in the Eagles’ 6-5 Region 5 victory over the Knights.

Gustafson’s dramatics came only after Eisenhower’s Haylie Birt had given her team a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh with a two-run homer to left.

The victory was Youngsville’s second of the season and second in as many days. Jameson said after the game, the rivalry between the Knights (1-3) and Eagles (2-2) always brings out the best in both teams.

“Our girls and their girls are always up for this game,” said Jameson. “Everyone plays their hardest and today we got the big hit. We’ve got momentum on our side right now. The girls have got a taste of hitting and a taste of winning and we feel like we can compete with anyone right now.”

Eisenhower coach R.J. Williams left Wednesday’s game feeling like he had cost his team a victory.

“I’ll tell you exactly what I told the girls in the huddle,” said Williams. “Players win games, coaches lose games. Plain and simple, I cost us the game today with some bad decisions with sending or not sending runners. I feel like I coached us out of an eight-run win today.”

Though it would be the Eagles which would ultimately win the game, it looked to be Eisenhower’s night early on as the visitors quickly put three runs on the board. Dakota Williams was hit by a pitch, Birt singled and Brooke Stanton then scorched a three-run homer to make it 3-0.

Youngsville quickly got one run back, cutting the gap to 3-1 in the bottom of the first when Julia Sveda’s RBI single plated Jessica Jameson. Several close calls in the game didn’t go Eisenhower’s way and the first of those came in the top of the second inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, an infield grounder was thrown to third where Eagles shortstop Kennedy Cratty attempted to tag the Ike runner. The ball fell to the ground on the tag and the Ike runner was called safe.

Jameson argued that the runner should be out since it was a force play and Cratty had controlled the ball long enough before the tag. After a lengthy discussion, the umpires agreed and the Ike runner was called out. Much to Williams’ dismay, the Knights were left with runners on first and second with one out instead of the bases loaded with nobody out. Ike would not score in the inning.

Youngsville tied the game in the bottom of the second when courtesy runner Julie Jameson scored on a passed ball and Kennedy Cratty added an RBI groundout that scored twin sister Karissa Cratty.

With the game tied 3-3, Eisenhower had several chances to add additional runs, twice getting runners to third with less than two outs. In both the fourth and seventh innings, Knights runners were caught in between third and home and tagged out, costing the road team valuable runs.

Youngsville went ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth on Gustafson’s RBI groundout, setting the stage for a dramatic seventh inning.

After a leadoff triple failed to result in a run, Eisenhower’s Birt stepped to the plate with teammate Dakota Williams on second. Birt smashed the ball down the left field line, racing around the bases to give Ike a 5-4 advantage. The Knights nearly pushed insurance runs across the plate, ending the inning with runners on second and third.

In the bottom of the inning, Kennedy Cratty drew a one-out walk, but was retired on Elyssa Horn’s fielder’s choice. The Knights nearly ended the game by turning two on Horn’s grounder, but the field umpire ruled that Horn beat the throw on a close play.

Jessica Jameson followed with a walk, bringing Gustafson to the dish with the tying run on second and the winning run on first. She sent the third pitch she saw to the gap in right-center, allowing both Horn and Jameson to score, ending the game with a 6-5 Youngsville win.

Both teams will have to quickly recover from Wednesday’s dramatics. Youngsville hosts Titusville on Thursday while Eisenhower hosts Rocky Grove. Ike’s game will not be played at their usual field due to construction. The game is tentatively scheduled to be played at a softball field in North Warren’s Farm Colony Complex.

Youngsville won the junior varsity game in four innings; Julie Jameson was the winning pitcher.

EISENHOWER (5): Kelsey Repke, cf, 4-0-1-0, Dakota Williams 3-2-0-0, Haylie Birt, ss, 4-2-2-2, Brooke Stanton, c, 4-1-3-3, Ashley Barnett, rf, 4-0-2-0, Kristen Wagner, 3b, 4-0-0-0, Natasha Morrison, 1b, 4-0-1-0, Emily McJunkin, p, 3-0-1-0, Mallory Trumbull, lf, 3-0-2-0, Totals: 33-5-12-5

YOUNGSVILLE (6): Kennedy Cratty, ss, 3-2-1-1, Elyssa Horn, 3b, 4-1-2-0, Jessica Jameson, cf, 1-1-0-1, Katie Gustafson, p, 4-0-1-3, Julia Sveda, rf, 3-0-1-0, Haley Gray, lf, 3-0-0-0, McKenzie Rugar, dp, 3-0-1-0, Julie Jameson, cr, 0-1-0-0, Karissa Cratty, 2b, 3-1-1-0, Kelsey Anderson, 1b, 3-0-0-0, Judi Lewis, c, 0-0-0-0, Totals: 27-6-7-5

Eisenhower 300 000 2 – 5 12

Youngsville 120 010 2 – 6 7

2b-Ashley Barnett (E), Brooke Stanton (E). 3b-Katie Gustafson (Y), Kelsey Repke (E), Natasha Morrison (E). HR-Stanton (E), Haylie Birt (E). WP-Gustafson. LP-Emily McJunkin.