The Hannibal softball team plated seven runs over the final two innings against Highland to win 7-6 in dramatic fashion.
Josie Zeiger was right where she wanted to be Tuesday at Veterans Sports Complex as she stepped to the plate for the Hannibal softball team with the game on the line against Highland.
Calm, cool and collected, the junior roped a 2-RBI, 1-out triple that rolled to the left-center fence to score teammates Kennedy Schmohe and Olivia Pfeifer, tying the game 6-all in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I knew I had to get up the plate and do my job,” Zeiger explained. “The pitch came right where I like it the most, and I swung as hard as I could. My heart was racing the whole time I was rounding the bases. As soon as I saw it hit the gap, I was going.”
Josie Zeiger makes it a tie game with 2-RBI triple. pic.twitter.com/qCn6Mtqwqa— Courier-Post (@HCP_Sports) September 12, 2017
Zeiger then made the most of a wild opportunity.
Highland hurler Lauren Merrell appeared ready to intentionally walk Hannibal cleanup hitter Lauran Haye. The only problem was, her first pitch sailed wide and found its way to the backstop. Zeiger alertly scurried home to cap a 4-run Lady Pirates rally for a 7-6 win.
“I wasn't really expecting that to happen, definitely, but when it did, I was ready,” the Lady Pirates hero said. “I was ready to get in. When I crossed the plate, it just felt like victory.”
Wild pitch winner for Hannibal. Lady Pirates score four runs in seventh to win 7-6 over Highland. pic.twitter.com/6xqoa6JpLJ— Courier-Post (@HCP_Sports) September 12, 2017
Hannibal (7-7) plated seven tallies over the final two innings to turn a 4-0 deficit into its first 1-run win of the season after losing its past three games by a combined total of three runs.
Coach Kendra Murphy called the comeback a turning point.
“We're not going to talk about anything negative,” the Hannibal coach said. “This is it. This is the turning point in our season right here. This is the break we needed, and something finally went our way. We're going to take it and go with it.”
Hannibal's offense came to life in the sixth inning when it scored for the first time of the night.
Schmohe led off with a bloop single to right field just beyond the second baseman's grasp to bring up the top of the order. Pfeifer drew a walk on five pitches to put runners on first and second. Zeiger then hit a grounder to the pitcher, who threw to third in hopes to gunning down the lead runner.
Everybody was safe.
That's when things really turned sour for the visitors. Haye hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop, and the Lady Cougars committed two errors on the play that allowed both Schmohe and Pfeifer to score.
Tori Moore reached on an infield single to drive home Zeiger and cut the Lady Pirates' deficit to 4-3.
Highland capitalized on a pair of Hannibal miscues in the top of the seventh to regain some padding for its lead. Kara Baker singled home Becca Scott, who led off the frame by reaching on an error. Baker later came around to score on a passed ball to make it 6-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Hannibal No. 8 hitter Haley Bautch got the final rally brewing for the Lady Pirates when she led of the home half of the seventh with a single to left field. Schmohe, ninth in the lineup, then drew a walk.
“We definitely wouldn't have been able to do it without them,” Zeiger said of the bottom of the order. “If they hadn't got on, I wouldn't have been able to score them the way that I did. This was a team effort, for sure.”
Once again, the Lady Pirates were in business.
Pfeifer drove home pinch runner Sydney Hart with nobody out to make it 6-4, and the Lady Pirates took advantage of a misplay to push runners to second and third.
Following a groundout, the stage was set for Zeiger, who came through in the most clutch of moments to lift Hannibal.
“That's why Josie is there in the 3-hole spot,” Murphy said. “She has a lot of confidence in herself, and rightly so. She's come through multiple times this season to plate runs. There are times when a girl steps into the box that I just know something good is going to happen. Tonight was one of those times.”
Taylor Wilson pitched a complete game to earn the win. The junior allowed six runs (four earned) while scattering nine hits over seven innings. The Lady Cougars clawed for their first run in the third inning before tacking on three more in the fifth.
The Lady Pirates offense bailed itself out against Merrell, who took the tough loss for Highland.
Hannibal continues its season Thursday when it hosts Boonville. When the Lady Pirates take the field again, they will do so with strengthened confidence from a wild win.
“Every game, we always have the fight,” Zeiger said. “We know that we can get the job done. This time, we just did it. This is a turning point. We're ready to take charge from now on.”