By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights recovered from a self-inflicted wound to defeat Martinsville 3-2 in eight innings of softball here Friday evening.
Morgan Hubble doubled to leadoff the eighth and she was brought home on a walkoff single by Alexandra Slick.
The Arabians were behind 2-0 after two-and-a-half innings without the Artesians even getting a hit.
The third inning started harmlessly as PH starting pitcher Bailey Benefiel retired the first two hitters. Martinsville leadoff hitter Makayla Ferguson lofted a popup in front of the plate. Arabian catcher Slick moved under it but third baseman Elizabeth Sigler called for it as the came down the line. The ball hit Slick’s glove at about the same time that Sigler hit that same glove and the ball popped out allowing Ferguson to reach.
“That was my fault,” said Slick. “That was my error. I am glad my teammates picked me up for that.” But they didn’t do it right away.
After a walk to McKinley Choate, one of four free passes by Benefiel in the game, Chandler Elliott lofted a fly ball to center. Heather Wendling, the regular PH right fielder, was playing center due to the illness of Delilah Wright. Wendling moved back and then had to come forward. The ball went in and out of her glove. By the time she recovered, two runs had scored.
The road back for the Arabians started in the fourth inning when Sigler powered the ball over the centerfield fence to leadoff that inning to cut the deficit to 2-1.
In the fifth, Benefiel gave up her only hit of the game and it didn’t leave the infield. PH shortstop Sarah Dixon ranged deep up the middle and her throw was just late to first. But over the final five innings, no Martinsville base runner reached second base.
PH tied the contest in the fifth. With two outs and nobody on base, Breanna Pryor singled to right. She came home on Dixon’s double to tie the game at 2-2. The Arabians had two runners on base with one out in the sixth and two runners on with two outs in the seventh, but couldn’t break the deadlock.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hubble started the winning rally.
“She (Artesian pitcher Elliott) had been pitching me outside,” said Hubble. “I knew it was going to be in the gap when I hit it. But I’m so slow. I was afraid they were going to throw me out (at second). I’m the worst slider on the team.” The rain-soaked infield, a product of the 45-minute delay in the second inning, didn’t help either.”
The next hitter, Slick, had a simple strategy. “I just wanted to hit it as hard as I could. I knew if I hit it to right that Morgan would get to third with one out.” She cracked a single to right and when the ball skipped under the glove of Martinsville right fielder Regan Kirsch, Hubble came home with the decisive run.
“To be honest, I’m not very happy,” said PH coach Rob Davis. “We had too many mistakes. That’s not the way a championship team plays. Bailey Benefiel is out there pitching lights out and we give up two runs without a hit. But these players are fighters and they are going to battle back.”
The Arabians are 22-3 on the season.