ELKHART — Down 8-4 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Jimtown coach Brandy Eberhart thought the deficit was too big even for her ‘cardiac kids.’
The Jimmies almost proved their coach wrong.
Jimtown scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run on base, before Hanover Central got the final out and edged the Jimmies 8-7, in a terrific Class 3A regional game.
“Our athletic director (Nate Dean) has been calling the girls the comeback kids, but I admit, going into the bottom of the seventh, I didn’t think we’d be able to do it,’’ Eberhart said. “But these girls just have so much fight in them and they just kept battling until the final out. I am just so proud of them.’’
With two runners on, the Jimmies scored on a ground out by Gabby Desimone to make it an 8-5 game. But after a strikeout of Morgan Weesner, it looked like the Wildcats were home free.
But Jimtown had a little more fight left, as first sophomore Cearia Woods and then freshman Brianna Cook each doubled off tiring Wildcat starter Taylor Towry to make it 8-7.
After a meeting at the mound with Hanover Central coach Jason Bolden, Towry was able to get Jimtown’s Jessica Alvey on a hard grounder to third to end the game.
“That’s a very good softball team and we took the battle to them,’’ Eberhart said. “We’ve been stressing to close better than we started and that’s what we’ve done the last several weeks. I can’t wait to get things started again next year.’’
Already leading 5-4, the Wildcats seemingly clinched the win by scoring three times in the top of the seven off freshman relief pitcher Makenna Betzer.
Two of the runs came in on a hard-hit single by Towry, while the third scored on a single by Elise Kratkoczki off another freshman, Heather Ward.
Betzer and Ward were the third and fourth pitchers used by Eberhart, following starter Haley Holmes and Woods.
“We have been mixing things up all season with our pitchers ... sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,’’ Eberhart said. “I try to change things out if it looks like a team is getting a read on our pitcher to give them a different look.’’
Holmes gave up two runs in the top of the first inning after starting the game with a pair of walks.
But Jimtown would get a big run in the bottom of the first on a Hanover Central error, before scoring three times in the second to take a 4-2 lead.
Gianna Desimone, who had a great catch in left field in the top of the second, doubled in a pair of runs, while Julia Bowman drove in Gianna with a single to put Jimtown up by two.
“Scoring in the first was just huge for us,’’ Eberhart said. “If we don’t get that run, it could have been a long night. But the girls were energized by that run and we kept it going in the second.
After hits by Isabel Ortega and Gabby Desimone loaded the bases, Towry would escape further damage with a strike out. The junior would then retire eight straight and not allow another run until tiring in the seventh.
After getting a run back in the third, the Wildcats would take the lead back in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out, pinch hitter Sydney Kuzma doubled off the left field fence to start the rally. After Woods retired leadoff hitter Kratkoczki, Camryn Veteto then singled and the throw to the plate had pinch runner Michayla Ferguson beat, but Cook had the ball pop out of her mitt on the tag, tying the game at 4-4. After going to second on the throw, Veteto scored on a single by Tyler Chambers.
The Jimmies would finish with 10 hits, two each by Gianna Desimone and Ortega, while Hanover Central’s Leah Mokos had three hits.
Jimtown loses just one senior, Ayla McIntosh, who Eberhart went out of her way to praise on Tuesday.
“We all call her mom because she’s our only senior,’’ Eberhart said with a smile. “But she’s been great all season and has done everything we’ve asked from her. Even though she hasn’t played a lot, we’re going to miss her.’’
Hanover Central advances to the Twin Lakes Semistate on Saturday with a 21-3 record, while Jimtown’s season is complete with a 16-10 mark.
CLASS 3A REGIONAL
HANOVER CENTRAL 8, JIMTOWN 7
Hanover Central 201 002 3 — 8 12 3
Jimtown 130 000 3 — 7 10 3
Taylor Towry (W); Haley Holmes, Cearia Woods (4, L), Makenna Betzer (7), Heather Ward (7).
Jimtown: Hits – Isabel Ortega, Gianna Desimone. 2B – Desimone, Woods, Brianna Cook. RBI – Desimone 2.
Records: Hanover Central 21-3, Jimtown 16-10.