CENTERVILLE — Big games come down to big hits and big plays. When Northmont faced Mason in the regional semifinal Wednesday at Centerville both teams had their share of both.
Northmont out-hit the Comets eight to five but Mason came up with the big hit when it counted most.
With Northmont leading 2-1 and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Mason was in prime position to win the game. Lead-off hitter Brooke Rice drew a walk with sophomore Abby Mullins coming in to pinch run. Mason pitcher Elle Buffenberger flew out to left for the first out but freshman Ali Weekly ripped a single to left to put runners on first and second.
Sophomore Jillian Aquilia grounded out to third but both runners advanced. Northmont was one out away from securing the victory, but Mason senior Erin Rockstroh, who was hitless in three previous trips to the plate, belted a single to center. Mullins scored and Northmont center fielder Erin Mangen unleashed a throw to the plate with such ferocity that the ball sailed over the Lady Bolts’ dugout allowing Weekly to score the go-ahead and winning run to give Mason a 3-2 victory.
“She was oh for three up to that point but when it counted most she put a ball up the middle to drive in two runs,” said Northmont Coach Kris Mangen. “It’s the little things that win games like this. They capitalized and they advanced.”
The Comets will advance to face the winner of Lakota East vs Lakota West. The game will be played on Saturday at noon at Centerville High School. Mason improves to 25-2 while Northmont ends its season at 27-4.
Northmont pitcher Whitney Fiedler turned in another stellar performance and belted a two-run homer in the top of the first inning to give the Lady Bolts an early 2-0 lead that would hold up until the fatal seventh inning.
The Lady Bolts had a chance to increase their lead in the top of the third inning. Northmont had the bases loaded with one out. Mallory Woods hit a fly ball to center that Mason sophomore Olivia Popovich fielded and fired a bullet to the plate. Catcher Brooke Rice put the tag on Cory Mangen to complete the double play to wipe out the scoring threat.
“We had our opportunities like the one with base loaded and one out when their center fielder caught it and then caught Cory out at home as well,” Mangen added. “I told Cory to tag-up. She is one of our fastest and smartest runners. We could have held her up. Defensively we made two fielding errors so we didn’t do as well defensively as we normally do. Whether you blame that on nerves or just lack of focus, I don’t know. We made errors today that we don’t normally make. They capitalized on it and they advance.”
Senior Courtney Jasinski led Northmont by going 3 for 4 at the plate. Cory Mangen went 2 for 4, Fiedler went 1 for 3 with a homer and two RBI, Woods went 1 for 3 and Erin Mangen went 1 for 3 with a double.
Mason was led by Weekly who went 2 for 3, Rice 1 for 2 with a double, Hopkins 1 for 3 with one RBI and Rockstroh 1 for 4 with two RBI.
Fiedler scattered five hits, issued one walk and struck out three.
NMT 200 000 0 – 2 8 2
MAS 000 100 2 – 3 5 1
Senior third baseman Cory Mangen prepares to throw out Mason batter Jillian Aquilia on a sacrifice bunt in the top of the third inning at Centerville.
Emily Ritchie catches a pop fly by Mason sophomore Zoe Bishop in the bottom of the second inning.
Courtney Jasinski gets an infield hit in the top of the third inning against Mason.
Cory Mangen rips a single down the right field line in the top of the third inning.
Anna Mangen throws to first to get Mason hitter Elana Harrison out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind