Another classic battle between the Anthony Wayne and Springfield softball teams played in brutally cold and windy conditions Friday featured a bit of everything.
A howling breeze with sustained winds of 26 miles per hour combined with temperatures in the low 40s made for a bone chilling stage for a back-and-forth Northern Lakes League clash. Generals senior pitcher Emily Kurfis chalked up 19 strikeouts, and AW emerged with a 5-4 win in nine innings on its home field.
Down to their last out with the bases empty and trailing 4-3, the Generals tied it on Dana Gill’s inside the park home run and sent it to extra innings. Anthony Wayne then won it when freshman Mac Rhodes scored after being caught in a rundown between third and home when the throw got past the catcher.
“Did you expect any less?” AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger said. “It was up. It was down. It was all around. There were so many things happening. And it was cold. It was ridiculous conditions. But it was a typical NLL game. Neither team quit.”
Anthony Wayne remained undefeated (8-0 overall, 3-0 NLL) as seven of their nine batters had at least one hit.
Springfield (7-4, 1-2) led 1-0, then battled back to tie it at 3 and took a 4-3 edge in the sixth. Freshman Bre Buck played beyond her years, finishing with six strikeouts.
“It was a super game to be a part of,” Blue Devils coach Rob Gwozdz said. “It was a classic Anthony Wayne-Springfield game. In my 10 years every game seems like it’s like this. It’s two good teams going at each other.”
Gill, who went 2 for 3, came up with a clutch shot down the right field line with her team down to its last out. The ball got by the right fielder and rolled all the way to the corner. Gill motored around the bases, and she ran through Vogtsberger’s stop sign at third. She then ran right by a tag at the plate to tie it at 4.
“I should have just been letting her go all the way. I don’t know what I was thinking,” Vogtsberger said. “Once we tied it up, I knew we were going to win.”
Gwozdz said he thought his catcher Ashley Zappone had tagged Gill.
“It was a bang, bang play, but my catcher insists that she touched her,” he said.
Anthony Wayne’s Jamie Westenkirchner walked to start the rally in the ninth. Marisa Shook then singled before Nicole Del Monte hit a line drive to right that bounce off the right fielder’s glove. But Brooke Kretz recovered to get the ball in, and the relay throw easily beat Rhodes, who was caught in the rundown. But the ball then bounced away from the catcher.
Kurfis, who gave up nine hits, said the wind helped the velocity of her pitches. But she said her movement wasn’t as good. A late drizzle intensified the conditions.
“This is a first with the rain and the wind,” Kurfis said. “It was tough, but I like pitching in cold games. I stay more focused. But once it started raining, it was horrible.”
Springfield senior left fielder Cailyn Cordrey preserved the lead in the sixth inning with an outstanding catch. With two runners on, Kurfis drilled the ball over Cordrey’s head but she managed to get back and stretched out to make the diving catch.
“That was amazing,” Gwozdz said. “We have all the confidence in the world in her.”
Both teams rallied with two outs to take leads in the late stages. In the fourth, AW went up 2-1 on Brianna Megyesi’s single and took a 3-1 lead on Westenkirchner’s single. Springfield went up 4-3 on Rhodes’ single with two outs in the sixth.
The Blue Devils took an initial 1-0 lead in the first on Emily Rockman’s RBI double. They later tied it at 3 on Marisa Shipman’s two-run double in the fifth.
Buck, a diminutive freshman, seemed unfazed by the conditions or going toe-to-toe with Kurfis.
“I credit their pitcher. She pitched her heart out,” Vogtsberger said. “She stuck in there. She wasn’t afraid. But we came a long way today. The dirt was constantly blowing up, and it was probably the coldest game we’ve played in. But nobody complained.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com or 419-724-6354.