The scoreboard didn’t do Roland-Story’s victory against South Hardin in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal on Wednesday, July 5, complete justice.
While the Norsemen beat South Hardin by a comfortable 9-1 result, they did it with just seven hits. Aided by eight walks, Roland-Story got contributions from across the lineup. All nine starting players in the lineup reached base at some point during the game.
With the win, the Norsemen moved into the regional semifinals against Humboldt, which beat Gilbert 6-1 on Wednesday. The game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday in Humboldt.
“It was good for the girls to score runs consistently throughout the game after not playing since Saturday,” Roland-Story coach Amber Doyle said. “You worry about it a little bit because you play every night during the season, and you get a little break before the postseason. I was happy to see that they were scoring.”
Sophomore Talyn Phillips did the most damage in the lineup, going 1-for-2 with a big three-run double in the fifth inning. She also had two sacrifice bunts.
“Their pitcher did a good job of getting us to chase, but we did a better job of settling in and taking pitches,” Doyle said. “Once they started waiting for a pitch to drive, that helped a lot.”
Roland-Story was aided by a few defensive and pitching miscues by the Tigers in the bottom of the first inning.
The Norsemen’s Susie Weaver reached base to begin the game after a South Hardin error, and two more batters joined her on base via walks. The Norsemen only had one hit in the inning — a double by Jenna Clark — but still managed to push across three runs to take an early lead.
The Norsemen tallied another run in the second inning after Juliann Clark singled and stole second, leading to an RBI single by Weaver.
In the pitching circle, junior Sydney Mathis was dealing. She faced the minimum amount of batters through the first three innings, her only blemish coming via South Hardin single to lead off the third inning. But the runner was doubled off in the next at-bat.
South Hardin managed to get to Mathis in the fifth inning, but it didn’t come easily. After the Tigers put a runner on with a single, an error by Mathis allowed the runner to score.
But that was the only tally she allowed, turning in a sparkling performance by allowing just one run and four hits over her seven innings of work.
“I think we came together as a team to put runs on the board so it makes it easy to go out there and throw confidently,” Mathis said. “I also had my team backing me on defense.”
At the plate, the Norsemen tallied a run in the fourth, but broke the game completely wide open in the fifth.
Roland-Story’s Cora Spainhower walked to lead off the inning and scored via single from Juliann Clark. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Phillips hit a flare to left field that just escaped the fielder’s grasp and rolled down the line.
Three runs scored on the double, as the Norsemen extended their lead to 9-1.
Mathis took care of business in the final two innings to finish off the victory. The defense had a big hand in the victory as well, as the Norsemen kept at least one run off the board and contributed to knocking other runners off the base paths.
“The defense did a good job for the most part,” Doyle said. “(The fielders) have a lot of confidence this year. They see what they are capable of doing. They’re just battle-tested now.”
In the regional semifinals, the Norsemen will face a Humboldt team that has a 28-4 regular season under its belt, but the Norsemen are confident their strength of schedule will give them a leg up.
“I think we’ve played a lot of quality opponents this year,” Doyle said. “I don’t think it will be a team that we haven’t faced this year… This will be in our wheelhouse for the types of teams we’ve played, but we’ll have to have the focus.”