Sheffield outlasts Eisenhower in extra innings
Just before Sheffield came to bat in the seventh inning Monday, senior shortstop Mya Grubbs gathered her teammates and asked them a single question.
“How do you want this game to end?”
The Wolverines, trailing by a run at the time, responded by tying the game in the seventh, before getting a pair in the eighth to end the season with a 10-8 win over Eisenhower at Werner Park.
“I wanted to leave with a positive impact,” Grubbs said.
She certainly had an impact in the Wolverines comeback victory. Grubbs was 1-4 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and had a pair of leaping catches in the field, one to get the second out of the eighth inning.
It was an improbable comeback for Sheffield, primarily because the Wolverines led for most of the game.
“We had to pull something out,” Sheffield coach Mark Maines said. “A lot of it was the mental game. We kept our chins up.”
Marissa Grubbs drew a leadoff walk to start the game, and one out later, Mya was hit by a pitch. Jerika Dexter followed with a single, and an error on the play allowed Marissa to score and both Mya and Dexter to advance a base. The two scored on a pair of wild pitches to put Sheffield up 3-0.
Eisenhower answered right back in the home half when Delaney Chase singled and Lexi Head reached on an error to put runners on first and second with no outs. One out later, Shelby Kuzminski roped a 2-RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2.
“We started hitting,” Eisenhower coach Mike English said. “We figured out what to do and when to do it.”
Mya and Dexter hit consecutive singles to start the third, and Tori Childress hit a one out single to plate Mya. Dexter scored on a wild pitch and Sarah Heller’s single with two outs sent Childress home to give Sheffield a 6-2 advantage.
Again, the Knights responded. With one out, Kuzminski reached on an error. The misplay allowed her to get all the way to third and she scored on Miranda Garris’ groundout. Alexa Courtney hit a single to left and she reached third on an error on the play. The Wolverines misplayed Phoebe Tower’s popup and Courtney raced home to make it 6-4 Wolverines after three innings.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Sheffield’s Emily Leichtenberger was hit by a pitch. The free pass sent Heller home from third and had the Wolverines ahead 7-4.
The Knights responded in a big way in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Ashley Hall lined a laser to left for a double. Chase followed with a single and Head’s base hit sent Hall in. Brittany Smith walked to load the bases and Kuzminski’s double tied the game at 7-7. Garris followed with another RBI single to give Eisenhower its first lead at 8-7.
“We did it all with two outs,” English said. “It just started to come together.”
Eisenhower threatened again in the sixth, Marissa Grubbs induced a pair of groundouts to end the inning and set the stage for Sheffield’s comeback. Heller hit a pop-up to start the inning. A trio of Knights converged on the ball, but none were able to make the catch. With Heller on first, Kennidee Confer hit a sharp single to right. An error allowed Heller to score to tie the game and Confer was thrown out trying for third.
“It’s exciting to be in the game late,” Mya Grubbs said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking, but you just have to trust that your teammates have the ability to come back.”
The Knights were set down in order in the bottom of the inning and the Wolverines went right to work in the eighth. Dexter led off with a walk and Faite Smith followed with a sharp grounder to second. The ball hung up Maddie Fetzeck just enough to allow both runners to reach safely. Childress followed with a RBI single and Ashley Frederick’s single loaded the bases. Heller hit a ground ball to Head at short, who threw home for the force out. The infield was drawn in with Confer at the plate and the junior blooped a single to shallow left to end the scoring.
“We played well defensively,” Maines said.
Childress finished 2-4 with two runs scored and two more driven in, while Heller was 1-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.
Kuzminski went 2-4 with a run scored and four RBI. Garris drove in a pair while Chase and Head each scored twice.
Both coaches felt the game showed glimpses of a bright future for their respective programs.
“This was a big win for the whole program,” Maines said. “It’s looking good for the future.”
“This is the best we’ve played all year,” English said. “We’ve got to start believing. Next year should be better.”
While both teams are relatively young, they will have some big shoes to fill. Grubbs, Heller and Smith all played key roles for the Wolverines.
“It’s going to be tough,” Maines said. “They’ve got some good bats. Mya is a leader. Someone is going to have to step up.”
While Eisenhower loses only a single senior, Garris, she’ll leave a massive hole at first base.
“It’s like she’s seven feet tall,” English said. “She’s going to be tough to replace.”
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Mar. Grubbs, p, 3-1-0-0, Leichtenberger, c, 4-0-1-0, Mya Grubbs, ss, 4-2-1-0, Dexter, 2b, 4-3-1-0, Smith, 1b, 3-0-0-0, Childress, lf, 4-2-2-2, Frederick, rf, 5-0-1-0, Heller, cf, 4-2-1-2, Confer, 3b, 5-0-1-1, Team 36-10-8-5
Chase, cf, 4-2-2-0, Head, ss, 4-2-1-1, Smith, lf, 4-1-0-0, Kuzminski, c, 4-1-2-4, Garris, 1b, 5-0-1-2, Courtney, p, 5-1-3-0, Tower, 3b, 5-0-0-0, Fetzeck, 2b, 4-0-0-0, Hall, rf, 4-1-2-0, Team 39-8-11-7
Sheffield 303 010 12 – 10 8 7
2b-Courtney (E), Hall (E). WP-Mar. Grubbs. LP-Courtney
Mar. Grubbs 8 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
Courtney 8 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 9 BB, 5 K