HURRICANE — For all the star power that returned to the softball lineup at Hurricane High School this season, it was a relative unknown that provided the biggest difference for the Redskins on Thursday night.
Sophomore Krissie Strobel, who was brought in to the game to pinch run for senior third baseman Emily Davis, scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom on the eighth inning Thursday to give Hurricane a 9-8 win over visiting rival Cabell Midland (8-4).
“As soon as I saw it hit her shin guard I just went,” Strobel said of the game’s final play, in which a 1-1 pitch to Katie Adams from Midland reliever Abbi Tolbert caromed off the leg of Knight catcher Alyssa Koontz and the off the brick backstop behind home plate.
“I wasn’t expecting to be put in,” Strobel said. “Normally we just (run) for the pitcher and the catcher. So when he told me to get a helmet I was like, ‘OK, I haven’t warmed up but I’m good.’”
The final play was an almost poetic endgame after the teams combined to mash 33 base hits through seven-plus innings. Hurricane senior pitcher Courtney Rogers, the 2013 state player of the year, was 4 for 5 with a double and two RBI while getting the win by throwing eight innings and striking out five and walking two.
Rogers took an 8-4 lead into the top of the seventh, however, before seeming to run out of gas. The Knights (10-0) put the tying run on first on first when Makayla Waugh hit a two-run double. Waugh was 4 for 5 with a two-run homer and finished with five RBI.
“Both teams came to play today,” Rogers said. “I think both teams made errors but played great ball. It was just a great effort by everybody.”
It appeared as if Hurricane would pull away after the state’s top-ranked team answered three Midland runs in the top of the fourth with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the inning. In that frame the Redskins got a leadoff double from Amber Null before Katie Adams reached on an error. No. 9 hitter Abigail Osborne, leadoff hitter Madison Casto and Cassi Sargent followed with consecutive singles against Midland freshman starting pitcher Olivia Canterbury.
All-State outfielder Addie Fullen then followed with an RBI fielder’s choice to set up Rogers’ two-run double.
Rogers retired Midland in order in the top of the fifth and Hurricane added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“You’d love to have every game 8-0 or 9-0 because it’s comfortable, but last year the sectionals and regionals every game was uncomfortable,” Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell said. “You need to know situations to toughen you up a little bit.
“The fact is we gave a good lead away and still came back and won it, so I’m very pleased.”
Although the Knights, who fell to Hurricane in the Class AAA Region 4 semifinals last year, let numerous opportunities slip during the game, coach Jeanne Lunsford spoke positively about the game and her team’s performance.
“We have nothing to hang our head over,” Lunsford said. “We were down four runs in the top of the seventh inning and our girls didn’t quit. This is early in the season still. It doesn’t matter until May comes around.
“We left a lot of runners on base tonight, but in the early part of the season I think that’s a good thing. It means we’re hitting the ball,” Lunsford said.
Midland stranded 11 runners in the loss, while Hurricane left on the same amount.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.