Behind on the scoreboard for the majority of the game, the Pella Christian softball team took the lead when it mattered most – as the Lady Eagles picked up a thrilling walk-off victory in the bottom of the ninth inning over Knoxville last night. Pella Christian never led in the ballgame, and was tied 3-3 in the ninth inning when a single from Jenna Roose cleared first base and landed just fair along the right field line to score Tayler Stursma from third base for the 4-3 win. Pella Christian co-Head Coach Nate Van Wyk said the hit from Roose wasn’t a total surprise, but it wasn’t what he would have anticipated.
“We were talking about that as coaches – she’s [Roose] been hitting the ball hard all year, but she always seems to hit it right at somebody,” said Van Wyk. “Line drives to the outfielders, one-hoppers to the shortstop, and we find ourselves saying with Jenna, ‘You know, if that had been a foot to the right or a foot to the left,’ and the softest ball she hits all year is a game-winner.”
Pella Christian had had seven hits on Knoxville pitcher Jessica Stickel, but Van Wyk said it was when they happened that made the biggest difference.
“Give credit to the girls; they kept fighting. They kept plugging, [and] they came up with clutch hits there late in the sixth, seventh, eighth innings when they needed to,” said Van Wyk. “And that’s what I said to them after the game, I said ‘You know, you didn’t quit. And that’s the reason you won this game is you didn’t quit.’ ”
Ashley Van Kooten and Tayler Stursma led the Lady Eagles at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI each; while pitcher Paige Blom gave up one earned run, while striking out ten Knoxville batters in the win. Blom did have her troubles, though, as she also walked four Panther batters and beaned two others. Blom’s counterpart, Jessica Stickel, threw well for Knoxville; striking out four and walking four in the loss.
Knoxville Coach Steph Christner said while she was pleased overall with the way her team played all night, the game was lost due to the struggles at the plate – especially laying down the bunt.
In defeat, Knoxville fell to 2-5 in the Little Hawkeye Conference, while Pella Christian improved to 7-2 in the league and 12-6 overall. The Lady Eagles are at home again tonight, as they host Oskaloosa in another JV/Varsity doubleheader, starting at 6:00 p.m.