Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ICC Softball walks off winners in National Tournament opener

GERMANTOWN HILLS, ILL. - After a thirteen hour bus ride to Clinton, Mississippi, along with a tournament-opening banquet, it was finally time for some softball for the ICC Cougars (36-9), as the seventh seed in the National Tournament would open with the 10th seed, Johnson County.

The game would get off to an unusually rough start for Cougars starting pitcher Katie David (Fr. - Illini Bluffs HS). The freshman had three walks in the first inning, eventually leading to a 1-0 Johnson County lead after half an inning.

Neither team wasted any time getting to the run column. In the bottom half, David helped herself out with an RBI double to score Shelby Terrell (So. - Limestone HS) and tie the game at one apiece. That wasn't all for the first. After a single from Lexy Trammell (Fr. - Limestone HS), Kayla Ford (So. - Washington HS) scored her on an RBI single and just like that, ICC had a 2-1 lead after the inning. Oh, but there's still at least six innings to go, and there would be plenty more to come.

After David held Johnson County scoreless in the top of the second, Madi McCoy (So. - Washington HS) launched the first ICC home run of the national tournament, and the Cougars had a 3-1 lead after two.

David improved even more in the circle for the third inning, taking the Johnson County lineup 1-2-3 in the frame, and the Cougars jumped in the bottom of the inning. RBI hits from Alexis West (Fr. - Tri-Valley HS), Abbey Stoller (So. - Tremont HS), Lou McWhirter (Fr. - East Peoria HS), and McCoy propelled ICC to a 7-1 lead after just three innings of play.

The lead, however, was short-lived. David was challenged greatly in the top of the fourth, as the first nine Johnson County batters she faced in the inning reached. A walk was the ninth batter, and at the time of David's exit, Johnson County was within one, 7-6. Megan Adams (Fr. - Moline HS) would come on in relief and wound up finishing the game off in the end. Adams hit the first batter she faced and that would tie the game at 7-7, but ICC was able to stop the bleeding when Johnson County struck out to end the six-run half inning.

The Cougars looked like they could retake the lead in their half of the fourth, when Trammell and Ford reached on a single and walk respectively, but they would both be stranded on the bases.

Johnson County wasn't done adding onto that run column. A RBI double gave them the lead, capping a run of seven unanswered runs, after being down 7-1.

McWhirter would score on a throwing error in the bottom half to make it 8-8. Yet it seemed like a game of back and forth was in the plans, as Johnson County answered with two RBI singles to take a 10-8 lead.

Enter Kinsey Walters (So. - Geneseo HS). After Ford drew a walk, Walters stepped in the box, and on the first pitch, lined a home run over the center field fence at Clinton's Traceway Park. The clutch home run would tie the game at 10-10, and someone still needed to win this game after all the excitement that had already occurred for both sides.

ICC Head Coach Heather Doty said that she was pleased with how her team "kept their composure" despite the major comeback by Johnson County, saying that they were "prepared".

After a scoreless top and bottom of the seventh for the Cougars and Cavaliers, Johnson County would threaten in the top of the eighth, putting a runner in scoring position on a double, but that would be all for not, as a groundout followed to end the inning.

Although the Cougars would go three up, three down in the eighth, it was still 10-10.

Megan Adams was clutch in her own way in the circle, sending Johnson County into a 1-2-3 inning, leaving the door open for the Cougars again in the bottom of the ninth.

A single from Abbey Stoller got the ball rolling. Then, it was time for Lou McWhirter to have a shot at the game-winner. According to Coach Doty, no sacrifice bunt was signaled before the at-bat, but McWhirter laid down the bunt anyway, a prime example of what Doty says is how the "team is not selfish". The sacrifice bunt moved Stoller into scoring position for Madi McCoy. McCoy would keep ICC in the winner's bracket with a walk-off single, scoring Stoller and giving ICC the 11-10 win.

With McCoy's walk-off hit, it sealed a four-hit day for her, a good sign for both the team and fans, after the production from her bat hadn't been in it's normal place to this point of postseason play for the most part. Lexy Trammell also had a very notable game, bringing in three hits for the Cougars.

Coach Doty says it's "comforting" to know that "others can step up and she can get on".

The 11 runs scored by the Cougars seem like a lot, but they were only good enough for third among winning teams in Day 1 of tournament action. #2 seed Jones County would score 13 in a shutout win, and #5 Kirkwood would score 17 in a shutout win as well.

Doty added that it "helps" to get that double figure run total in the very first game of Nationals.

Next up for the Cougars is the National Quarterfinal against Jones County. The Bobcats are normally a friend as Doty said, but when their quarterfinal game starts tomorrow, their opponents with one looking to knock the other to the loser's bracket.

Johnson County was who knocked ICC out of the later rounds of the tournament last season, something that Coach Doty thinks could be a factor.

"The girls obviously want revenge," the 12th-year coach said.

The keys to the game for tomorrow come down to two things for Doty and the Cougars. She says those are to "be sharp" and that there is "no room for error".

The ICC - Jones County game is scheduled for a 3:30 pm first pitch from Clinton. The game can be viewed live on Periscope, or fans can follow live stats via GameChanger.

ICC Batting Stats (unofficial):
Madi McCoy | strikeout looking, Solo HR, RBI single, single, flyout, RBI single (4-6)
Shelby Terrell | walk, lineout, groundout (0-2)
Katie David | RBI double, flyout, strikeout swinging, groundout, walk (1-4)
Lexy Trammell | single, single, single, groundout, groundout (3-5)
Kayla Ford | RBI single, reached on error, walk, walk, groundout (1-2)
Alexis West | flyout, RBI double (1-2)
Sam McKee | flyout, groundout, groundout, groundout, popout (0-5)
Abbey Stoller | popout, RBI single, flyout, groundout, single (2-5)
Lou McWhirter | flyout, RBI single, single, flyout, sac bunt (2-4)
Kinsey Walters | flyout, 2-run HR, lineout (1-3)
Megan Adams | flyout, single (1-2)

ICC Pitching Stats (unofficial):
Katie David (No Decision) | 3.1 innings, 7 hits, 7 runs (5 earned), 2 strikeouts, 8 walks
Megan Adams (W) | 5.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 strikeouts, 1 walk

ICC vs. Jones County Links:
Twitter Updates: @StaabAlex
Video Broadcast: Periscope
Live Stats (via ICC): GameChanger
Live Stats (via NJCAA): NJCAA

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