“When you score that go-ahead run, it puts more pressure on them to come out and hit the ball, and us not being able to do that, it gave them confidence coming up there,” Kelley said.
North Ottowa’s first two batters managed to get on base — the second after an error by the first baseman.
Jenna Core’s double advanced Molly Poole to third base, and instead of choosing to walk Michigan’s next batter to load the bases, Kelley put faith in his relief pitcher, Rachel Duncan, to strike out North Ottowa’s next batter.
But a blooper into centerfield by Ashlyn Hall sent Poole home with the winning run.
“I told them I’m proud of them, and I appreciate the fight they put in today,” Kelley said. “Ultimately, we didn’t execute. We didn’t make enough plays. This seems to be a reoccurring theme the last couple games with the game on the line.
“I think we’re the best team here, I really do.”
With the win, North Ottowa sealed a spot in Thursday's semifinals. And now Riverfield needs to be its former opponent’s biggest fan.
Riverfield must first take care of business against Freeport, Ill., at 11 a.m. at Ferguson Field in Indianapolis. A loss in any fashion would send the team home with a 1-3 record in pool play.
But with a win, Riverfield’s focus would then turn to the evening game pitting North Ottowa and Appleton, Wisc.
Appleton would clinch a semifinal spot with a win, eliminating Riverfield in the process. An Appleton loss. however, would create a three-way tie with Freeport and Riverfield at 2-2, and the winner of a tiebreaker involving runs allowed divided by innings played would advance.
As of Tuesday evening, Riverfield holds the lead on the tiebreaker between the three teams. If both games go the normal six innings, and Riverfield gives up three runs or less to Freeport, Kelley’s team would move on.