Staring at a 4-2 deficit with two outs and two runners in scoring position, Sandpoint softball needed to make something happen in the fourth inning as the districts game, and the season, started slipping away.
It’s no secret the 5-15 Bulldogs have struggled closing the door on opponents all season — Sandpoint head coach Elizabeth Hawkins-Williams even admitted it herself after Tuesday’s 19-9 loss to Lakeland.
But as Sydnee Verlin’s grounder up the middle bounced towards center fielder Izzo Edwards, something changed. There wouldn’t be a spirit-crushing, two-out rally this time.
Edwards reacted, scooped the ball with her left hand and rocketed a pin-point throw straight to senior catcher Ember Dewey, who stood tall in front of home plate, daring Moscow’s Sarah Carscallen to make a move. Moscow’s runners froze, then quickly retreated back to their bases.
Thanks to Edwards’ cannon of an arm and Dewey’s heads up play, a sure-fire RBI double was only a single.
One pitch later, Moscow ended the inning with the bases loaded. The Bulldogs weathered the storm.
But Sandpoint was far from finished. Call it momentum or a pivotal play, but Edwards provided a spark that lifted her teammates in the next half-inning.
“I knew putting Izzo in center field today could possibly be a spark for our team,” Hawkins-Williams said. “This team almost needs that spark to get them going. And when you put [the team’s] defense with Izzo in the outfield, they definitely get that spark because the way she plays defense inspires her teammates to work hard too.”
The work Sandpoint put in during the bottom of the fourth not only took back the lead, but also gave them a comfortable four-plus run cushion en route to a 12-7 win.
Naturally, left-field standout Brooklen Steiger kicked off the fourth with one of her four hits on the day. Then Kinzie Ward blasted one of her two triples into deep right field to send Steiger home. And fittingly, Izzo Edwards’ RBI single gave Sandpoint a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
On the next play, the most exciting offensive play of the game came courtesy of right fielder Ashley Authier — and a little bit of luck.
Authier sent the second pitch she saw up the middle, which made not one, but two Bears miss on their first attempt. With two of the Bulldogs’ quickest players in Riley Cessna and Izzo Edwards on the bases, the hit was bound to send at least one of them home.
What happened next was a little wacky, to say the least.
Verlin bobbled, then eventually overthrew the ball clear over her third baseman. Authier got to her feet after sliding into third, then went home for a three-RBI hit.
From there, everything broke Sandpoint’s way. Jaycie Irish only saw four batters in a quick fifth inning. The Bulldogs made Moscow pay with Ward’s lead-off triple, which nestled itself in the absolute furthest corner of right field. Sandpoint loaded the bases, then did what Moscow couldn’t do by sending all three runners home off a wild pitch then singles from Tanis Davis, Clistie Adam and Brooklen Steiger.
When the dust settled on the 12-7 win, both Steiger and Petit had three-hit games. Ward finished 2-3 with two triples and an RBI. And as a whole, the Bulldogs quelled Moscow’s furious comeback attempt with two outs in the seventh.
Now they’ll have to recapture the magic against top-seeded Lakleand, which boasts the league’s best player in pitcher Taylor Woolley, plus a bevy of hitters.
“The girls are very excited about seeing Woolley on Saturday because they know they can score runs off her,” Hawkins-Williams said. “But did tell them that we’re going to make defensive changes because we can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
Sandpoint plays at Lakeland on Saturday at noon.
Moscow 000 400 3 — 7 15
Sandpoint 200 640 X — 12 14
Fielding stats unavailable at press time.
HITS: Moscow — Carscallen 2, Lassen 2, Verlin 2, Tanner, Fleischman, Bethel, Dreesmann 3. 2B — Smith, Bethel. 3B — Fleischman. Sandpoint — Edwards, Davis, Petit 3, Steiger 3, Adam 2. 2B — Steiger. 3B — Authier, Ward 2.