Softball: Newman rallies, but Morrison answers in road victory

Comets erase 5-0 deficit, but Fillies get big hit by Brewer in 10th inning

Morrison’s Bella Duncan rounds third base after hitting a homer against Newman Friday, May 3, 2024.

STERLING – It seems like every time Newman and Morrison get together on the softball diamond, they play a close game and fight each other to the very end.

That’s what Bella Duncan was thinking as she looked across the field after the Fillies’ 7-5, 10-inning win Friday afternoon in Sterling.

Duncan was in the on-deck circle when No. 9 hitter Emery Brewer lifted a blooper into short right field in the top of the 10th to drive in two runs and eventually send Morrison (15-7) to victory.

“I was telling her the whole game, ‘Your swing is beautiful, you’re just barely missing the ball,’ and I told her, ‘I believe in you more than anybody else on this whole field right now,’” Duncan said. “I was just hyping her up and telling her that she was doing great and not to get in her head – and then she finally put it all together and came up with a huge hit at the perfect time.”

Ava Duncan drew a walk to lead off the 10th. After a strikeout, Maddie Armitage singled up the middle. A comebacker to Newman pitcher Jess Johns resulted in an out at first – she originally looked toward third, but there was no one covering the base – and the two runners moved up to second and third.

Brewer came up and fouled off five pitches before lofting the sixth pitch just over the outstretched glove of leaping second baseman Addison Foster to plate both Ava Duncan and pinch-runner Megan Folkers.

“My team tells me that pressure is a privilege, and that resonates with me a lot. I really needed to hear that, and I felt it in that at-bat,” Brewer said. “Bella’s a strong hitter, so I knew I needed to get on base or do something to keep the inning going to at least give her a chance to come through.

“I was so happy when I saw the ball go over the second baseman’s head.”

Morrison’s Ava Duncan reaches back for a catch against Newman Friday, May 3, 2024.

Ava Duncan, who came on in relief of Bella Duncan to start the eighth, worked her second straight 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 10th to seal the win.

Brewer’s late heroics spoiled a spirited comeback bid by the Comets (10-9). Trailing 5-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, Newman scored an unearned run when Foster scored from second base on Sam Ackman’s sacrifice bunt and subsequent error.

Johns then sent an 0-2 pitch deep over the left-field fence for a home run to lead off the sixth, then Amiya Rodriguez ripped a triple down the right-field line on the very next pitch. She scored two pitches later on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-3.

Rodriguez came through again in the seventh. Madison Duhon singled, and Lucy Oetting walked with one out. After Johns flew out to center to move Duhon to third, Rodriguez smoked the second pitch she saw into the gap in left-center. Duhon scored easily, and coach Madison Craft aggressively sent Oetting home. The throw to the plate was high and wide, and Oetting scored standing to tie it up.

Newman’s Amiya Rodriguez hauls in a fly ball against Morrison Friday, May 3, 2024 at Newman High School.

“I think it says a lot that we all played our part as leaders and we all stepped up and knew we had a job to do – and we all did it. We just did our jobs and kept fighting,” Rodriguez said. “We all came in here on senior night and were ready to win for our seniors, and I think Jess and I starting it up in that [sixth] inning helped everyone behind us.”

Johns settled in nicely after a tough start. She gave up a three-run homer to Bella Duncan after walking Brewer with two outs in the second inning, then limited the damage the next two innings as Morrison threatened to break the game open.

Bella Schachette hit a one-out RBI infield single into the hole at shortstop in the third inning, but Johns got a flyout and a lineout to end that threat. She then gave up three straight one-out hits in the fourth, but held the Fillies to one run on Allie Anderson’s sacrifice fly.

Newman’s Jess Johns winds up for a pitch against Morrison Friday, May 3, 2024 at Newman High School.

“I think I settled in. I was paying close attention the first few innings to their swing patterns, and then I tried jamming them a lot and putting some spin on it,” said Johns, who struck out seven and walked three. “The inside screwball worked in my favor to get some pop-outs. I just really tried hitting spots.”

Bella Duncan was cruising early on before Newman rallied. She gave up just one hit and had eight strikeouts without a walk through the first four innings, throwing 45 of her 57 pitches for strikes.

But after a 14-strikeout one-hitter in a 6-1 win over 2A No. 3-ranked Rockridge on Thursday, she started to feel some fatigue in the later innings against the Comets. Still, she finished with 13 strikeouts and three walks.

“My riseball was really working at the beginning of the game, but I started getting a little bit tired because we had a really tough game yesterday, and I was just struggling to find it late. I just couldn’t find it, and I was talking with my coach trying to figure things out,” she said.

“And from a team perspective, I think it was the best choice for me to get taken out. It’s not about me – I don’t care how many strikeouts I have – as long as we have a team win, that’s all I care about.”

Ava Duncan pitched three scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit with a pair of strikeouts.

Newman’s Sam Ackman tags out Morrison’s Kaylee Pruis Friday, May 3, 2024 at Newman High School.
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