Pitcher Rachel Duer took the mound Thursday afternoon against Marysville High School in game one of a Chapman softball doubleheader. Duer is doing something new this season, thanks to the green light from head coach Eileen Webster.
“We started this year, her calling her own pitches,” Webster said. “That’s really helping out a lot because she can see where she needs to pitch it. She’s in charge of the whole thing and it’s going really well.”
Duer sent out codes to her catcher before each pitch, and it worked out in her favor in game one. Duer was able to go the distance, only surrendering one run on the day.
The game remained scoreless until the Chapman bats came alive in the fourth inning.
Alex Hoelscher led off the fourth inning with a bomb to left field to put the Lady Irish in front 1-0. Ashlynn Bledsoe followed that with a base hit, and then swiped second base on the next pitch. Emma Elliott followed Bledsoe’s base hit with one of her own, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. Rachel Duer gave herself some insurance on the mound as she punched in two runs on another Chapman base hit. The Irish scored four runs in the inning, which was all Duer needed to solidify a victory. Duer only conceded one run the rest of the game, as Chapman took game one 5-1.
Alex Hoelscher took the mound in game two of the doubleheader, facing Marysville’s Shelby Downard. Downard pitched game one as well, and Webster believes she got better as the day went on.
“She honestly brought it even better in that second game,” Webster said. “We really struggled against her in the second game.”
After the Lady Bulldogs took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, Hoelscher was able to go deep for the second straight game, knotting things up at 1-1. Later in the inning, Savanna Cavanaugh put Chapman in front with an RBI single to take a 2-1 lead.
Chapman carried the 2-1 lead into the sixth inning, when Marysville was able to tie the game up via small-ball. The Lady Irish led off the inning with a base hit, and the next batter put down a bunt, getting the leadoff runner to third base. A ground ball to second scored the runner.
The game ended up going into extra innings, something that Webster said the Lady Irish struggled with before the season. In the top of the eighth inning, the Lady Bulldogs were able to widen the gap as Shelby Downard blasted a two-run home run to put Marysville up by two runs.
Chapman retaliated in the bottom half as Hoelscher led off with a double. An infield single by Bledsoe in the next at-bat put runners at second and third after Bledsoe swiped second base. Duer grounded into a fielders’ choice, making the game 4-3. Then with two outs and a runner on third, a Downard pitch got away from the catcher as the tying run came home to knot the game back up at 4-4, going to another extra inning.
In the ninth inning, the Lady Bulldogs scored on an RBI-double to take a one-run lead, which was all the insurance Downard needed to send Chapman down one, two, three in the bottom of the ninth to take game two.
A comeback looked unlikely for the Lady Irish as they took their at-bats in the bottom of the eighth, but they climbed back and made it a game.
“They kept fighting; they played hard until the end and never quit,” Webster said. “I was proud of them for that. We just needed to get some hits there at the end and they just didn’t come through. So, this wasn’t in the cards for us.”