It was a situation that most softball players dream of capitalizing on.
William Chrisman had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game.
No. 7 hitter Caitlin Gentry was at the plate and decided to take a simple approach.
“If I couldn’t find a gap, I at least wanted to hit it hard,” Gentry said. “Maybe they would fumble it a little bit and give me that extra second to get to first.”
That’s exactly what happened when she hit a ground ball to Notre Dame de Sion shortstop Sam Phillips. She first checked second base, but no one covered the bag. She then fired the ball to first, but Gentry beat it out for the game-winner and Chrisman took a 10-9 victory against the Storm in eight innings in Bronze Bracket play of the Greater Kansas City Invitational Monday at Adair Park.
A runner began the eighth inning on second base via the international tiebreaker rule. Gracie Ussery bunted the runner to third before Sion decided to walk the next two batters to load the bases. Kennedi Goin popped out in the infield before Gentry’s clutch hit.
Gentry also came through in the seventh with the tiebreaker rule in effect because of the tournament’s time limit. Sion scored two in the top of the seventh, putting extra pressure on Chrisman to at least match that. After fouling three pitches off on a 1-2 count, Gentry drilled a single up the middle to put runners at the corners to lead off the inning. That eventually led to a tie game as a suicide squeeze and an RBI groundout sent the game to the eighth.
Bears center fielder Malia Atagi helped keep the game tied in the top of the eighth when she threw a laser to catcher Ryann Herod to get a Storm runner in a run down between third and home, which ended up being an out.
“I was trying not to over run the ball before I got it and threw it in,” Atagi said. “I wanted to win the game really badly, so I gave it all I got.”
Atagi also tracked down a hard hit line drive to center field one batter later.
“Malia definitely holds the outfield down for us in center,” Chrisman head coach Lindsey Ramsey said. “She’s a great leader out there and is smart and heads up. She sees the field pretty good.”
It was a much needed win after falling in the first two games of the tournament, Gentry said.
“It definitely boosted out confidence,” she said.
The Bears started the game hot by sending 12 batters to the plate in the first and collecting six hits for an early 6-0 lead. But Sion bounced back for two runs in the second and two in the third thanks to a Hannah Borgmeyer’s two-run home run off of Ussery.
Sion added one more in the fourth because of a two-base error on a hit, making it 6-5. In the bottom half of the inning, Goin hit a triple and scored on Gentry’s sacrifice fly. Lauren Ellwanger had a two-run single in the sixth to tie it before Chrisman won it in extra innings.
Cameron Calhoon paced the Chrisman offense with three hits, Gentry had two hits and two RBIs and Goin had two hits, including a triple.
In their second game of the day, Chrisman fell to Platte County 20-0. Gion had the lone hit for the Bears.
Earlier in the tournament, Chrisman fell to Lee’s Summit West 10-0 and Holden 6-2 Saturday.
Against the Titans, Chrisman didn’t get any hits and Ussery was the losing pitcher. The game against Holden was decided by a four-run fourth inning for the Eagles. The Bears scored two in the bottom of the sixth, but it was too little, too late.
Goin was the losing pitcher. Ussery had a hit and two RBIs to lead the offense.