Not only was the game on the line, but, in all likelihood, so was their season.
The Indian River High School softball team had dug themselves into a quick hole on the road against Milford on Monday, May 16, but still managed to battle back and pull out a 9-4 win in comeback fashion, to keep their post-season hopes alive.
“We definitely knew we needed this game,” said senior LF Callie McDowell. “We know that if we win out, we have a spot in the playoffs. We don’t want to have that “what-if” feeling. We just want to win out.”
“We started like we’re playing the playoffs today,” added head coach Erika Brittingham. “That’s the mentality that we went in with.”
After a three-run shot had put the Bucs up 4-0 in the first inning, freshman pitcher Abi O’Shields entered the game in relief, to immediately knock down her first two batters up and extinguish the Milford momentum.
Then, after one of only three walks on the day, she’d get a third batter to ground out to junior shortstop Makenzie Collins, who made the throw to first to get Indians out of the inning.
“She was mixing up the pitches well — moving it around like she does best,” Brittingham said of O’Shields in the circle. “She went out there and threw her game — the defense definitely backed her up and made some really nice plays.”
With runners on second and third, McDowell took the plate in the next inning to blast a shot through the gap between first and second and send two runs home, getting the Indians on the board and back in the game.
Sophomore CF Julia Bomhardt would cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI that sent junior 2B Madi McGee all the way home in the top of the third; however, she’d be left stranded on second by the time the inning was through.
Then, in the top of the fifth, junior 1B Sami Mumford’s at-bat would finally give the Indians their first lead, despite facing a full count with the bases loaded and two outs.
“I was just trying to stay relaxed,” said Mumford of the pressure. “I just kind of relaxed and hit the ball.”
While it wouldn’t count as an official hit, Mumford sent a hard shot to short that was mishandled, allowing Collins and sophomore DH Damya Williams to make it around the bags and putting the Indians up 5-4.
It was all IR after that, as they tacked on four more runs and O’Shields closed out the game with seven strikeouts on 99 total pitches.
McDowell would finish the day 2-3 at the plate and having knocked in four RBIs, with Williams and sophomore 3B Braydee Whitman each tallying singles and going 1-4 and 1-2, respectively.
The win put the Indians at 8-7 on the season with three games left to go, every one of which they were looking to go into the same way.
“We have three tough games ahead of us. We’re not gonna take anyone lightly,” Brittingham said. “We’re gonna go in with the mentality that we have to win them all.”
After their game against Virginia’s Nandua High School on Wednesday, May 18, (after Coastal Point press time), the Indians were set to host Sussex Central (12-3) on Thursday, May 19, before their final regular-season game on the road, against Delmar (2-12) on Friday, May 20.