By Mike Deak
WARSAW – Sometimes, you just take the win and move on.
In a Northern Lakes Conference softball contest both head coaches felt was significantly less than appealing, Warsaw took the ‘W’ with a 15-14 result over visiting NorthWood Monday evening.
“Sometimes these wins look really good, not this one,” said Warsaw head coach Kevin Dishman. “Yeah, we score 15 runs. Nice rally to come back from a big deficit. But that was ugly, not what you want to see.”
Dishman’s club found itself down 10-0 after NorthWood hung a snowman in the third, an eight-run explosion that all came with two outs in the inning. After Sydney King dropped in a single to right for two runs, Dishman sat quietly on his bucket waiting for his team to figure it out.
The Tigers would do just that, getting six of those runs back in the third highlighted by a two-run double from Lauren Eastwood. But the momentum wouldn’t last long as NorthWood responded with three more in the fifth, a Halle DeMien triple bringing in a run and King flipping a nicely placed grounder to bring home DeMien for a 13-6 lead.
“We’ve talked a lot about quality at-bats and making their pitcher have to throw early strikes,” said NorthWood head coach Mandy DeMien. “We’ve focused a lot on that, and I also felt like our strike zone changed during the game, so it was different for us to adjust to. But we still had to find our pitch to drive.”
In the bottom half of the fifth, with the wind blowing directly out to left, Kendyll Landis sent the women and children scampering with a missile she launched into the atmosphere. The three-run bomb skipped into the concourse to bring Warsaw back to 13-9, but another six-run inning, this time in the sixth, had NorthWood get the first two outs, but commit a pair of huge errors to keep Warsaw moving.
Megan McKenzie’s two-run single up the middle made it 13-12, and another NorthWood miscue allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
But in lockstep with how the game had gone, DeMien stepped to the plate in the seventh and crushed a ball that Makayla Holder had a beat on, but couldn’t maintain the catch as she crashed into the outfield fencing. The relay throw to get DeMien racing for third sailed to the dugout, allowing the speedy senior to come home.
Warsaw pitcher Tori Tackett, who endured all 135 pitches for the home siders, would issue a one-out walk to Ashlyn Brooke, but escape with a pair of strikeouts to finish off the Panthers.
Tackett, who didn’t look like she would get out of the third, would strike out seven in the complete game, just five of the 14 runs were earned. Warsaw, which hadn’t committed an error in NLC play coming into the night, made five Monday. NorthWood had four of their own per the scorebook.
“You’re going to have bad nights like that, and I knew sooner or later we were going to have to have something like this,” Dishman said. “It’s nice that we did, because that’s not us. Even though that’s a bad night defensively, we were still able to come out with a victory.”
Tackett would have three of Warsaw’s 17 hits, as did Kali Ousley, who also had at least a half dozen ringing foul balls in her at-bats, which seemed to play into how NorthWood’s pitchers tried to work around the middle of Warsaw’s lineup.
Morgan Jenkins had another monster night for the Panthers. On top of going 4-for-5 with a triple, three runs scored and an RBI, Jenkins also had a pair of assists to gun down would-be Warsaw runners trying to score. DeMien and Lili Lomeli each had three hits, three runs scored and a pair of RBI.
“I’m not mad at our girls with our plate at-bats, but we didn’t run the bases well and had key errors at the end,” DeMien said. “We have to just finish stronger.”
Warsaw (6-2, 4-0 NLC) have won six straight and will prepare to host Northridge (8-1, 3-0 NLC) in a showdown of conference unbeatens, unless NorthWood (3-6, 2-1 NLC) can have a say and knock off Northridge Tuesday in a make-up game from last week.