ANDERSON — For the third time in three games during Little League Softball Central Region tournament pool play, the Riverfield All-Stars held at least a two-run lead after the top of the second inning.
Yet, for the second time in three games, Riverfield let that lead slip away, falling to North Ottowa, Mich., 5-4 on a game-winning hit in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Coming into the top of the sixth inning, Riverfield manager Seth Kelley had watched his girls squander a 2-0 lead they held after the top of the second. Now down 4-2 facing North Ottowa’s vaunted pitcher, Leah Vaughan, Kelley tried to light a fire underneath his players as they stepped up to the plate.
“I told them before we went out, ‘Be prepared to go out and play defense cause we’re going to at least tie this game,’ so they started cheering a little bit,” Kelley said.
Myracle Settles led off for Riverfield and delivered an infield hit. Settles then stole second and advanced to third off a ground out from teammate Kalin Hubble. Settles completed her trip around the bases after a past ball from Vaughan gave her a chance to slide into home.
Two batters later, Kelley’s team had runners on first and third. Another past ball from Vaughan allowed Hailey Sargent to score the tying run, but from there, Riverfield’s offense went stagnant.
With runners on second and third and just one out, Kelley said he just needed his girls to get another bat on the ball and try to bring around the go-ahead run. Vaughan had already been taken out of the game for teammate Madelyn Nelson, but even with the game tied, Kelley said his girls couldn’t quite handle the pressure.
In the next half of the inning, North Ottowa took full advantage.