TERRE HAUTE — For the South side, it will go down as an epic comeback in a high school softball city rivalry series that needs gallons of ink to describe the dramatic events.
Scoring eight unanswered runs — after falling behind 6-0 in the first inning — Terre Haute South’s Braves took a big step toward a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title with an 8-6 eight-inning victory. South is 5-0 in the MIC, and the Braves’ victory also puts them two wins away from winning a Big Four title.
Senior Jackie Swain shut down the potent Terre Haute North (14-2, 4-1 MIC) attack after taking over during the Patriots’ six-run first frame — an inning that featured a first-pitch leadoff home run by Katie Herrick and another solo blast by Jazmine Allen.
The Patriots’ offense cooled, and coach Jack Kirchner’s squad made four errors in addition to a couple costly baserunning miscues.
“I never felt like we had them beat,” Kirchner said. “I know our team, we’ve struggled defensively all year, but we’ve scored a lot of runs. We hit the ball the first inning … that was it, she shut us down.”
Swain, who tossed 10 scoreless innings in MIC action Saturday, gave up just five singles over the last six innings.
“I couldn’t have done it without my defense behind me, and when the dugout got pumped up, I got pumped up and I was ready to roll,” Swain said. “We’ve been working really hard to win this game. It all paid off and it feels great to be 5-0 [in the MIC].”
Hannah Gossman started for South but North connected for the two home runs, and the sophomore walked two North batters, prompting South coach Dwayne Stout to make a change.
“The pitch I called, she hit her spot. It was just the wrong pitch to call,” Stout said of Gossman. “We made some adjustments, brought Jackie Swain in and she did a wonderful job. I made adjustments with my pitch calling, [Swain] did a great job of hitting her spots.”
The Braves took advantage of two Patriots’ errors in the first two innings to score four unearned runs off North’s Alisha Ludwig, who scattered five hits and struck out seven in six-plus innings. But South senior Kelsey Marlow made the Patriots’ pay with an opposite-field double that landed smack on the chalk down the right-field line to score Alexis Higgins and courtesy runner Lauren Rowley in the second inning. That hit made it a 6-4 game, which is how it stayed until the seventh inning.
South came up with the game-tying hit when Cheyenne Reinig’s sharp grounder found a hole through the right side. The Patriots made no errors in the seventh but the Braves forced extra innings by starting the rally with a leadoff single by freshman Lauren Perrelle. Leadoff hitter Hollie Jones followed up with an infield single, but North’s defense made two plays to get force outs at home before Reinig’s clutch hit.
In the eighth, errors by Herrick and Allen played a role in South taking a two-run lead, but Swain started the inning with a smash off the fence in center field.
Swain simply continued to keep North off balance in the ninth, striking out two before coaxing a high fly out to right field.
North lost an opportunity to add an insurance run in its half of the sixth inning as South’s Shelbie Scamihorn picked off the runner at second base with Allen, North’s outstanding No. 3 hitter, standing in the batter’s box.
“We’re not going to score a lot when you get doubled up on little pop-ups. We all know Scamihorn’s got a great arm. They made the plays, and we didn’t,” Kirchner said.
South stayed confident despite not facing anything like a five-run deficit in the first inning all season.
“The schedule that we’ve played this year has been a really, really tough schedule and that prepared us for this,” Stout said. “We knew we weren’t totally out of it, we can hit, we can run and we can apply pressure on their defense.”
TH South 8, TH North 6, 8 innings
TH South (ab-r-h-bi) — Jones 1b 5-1-1-1, Marlow ss 3-2-1-2, McGregor 4-1-0-0, Scamihorn c 4-0-1-0, Reinig 2b 4-1-1-2, Higgins cf 3-1-1-0, Swain dp-p 3-2-1-0, Schilling lf 3-1-1-0, McFarland rf 3-0-0-0, Perrelle ph 1-0-1-0. Totals 33-8-8-5.
TH North (ab-r-h-bi) — Herrick 3b 4-1-2-2, Will 2b 4-0-2-0, Allen ss 4-1-1-1, McKinney 3-1-3-0, Nelson dp 3-0-0-0, LaTourette rf 3-1-0-0, Sykes 3-1-0-0, McBride c 4-1-1-2, Ludwig p 3-0-1-1. Totals 31-6-10-6.
TH South 130 000 22 — 8 8 0
TH North 600 000 00 — 6 10 4
E — Allen 2, Ludwig, Herrick. LOB — THS 4, THN 4. 2B — Herrick, Marlow. HR — Herrick, Allen. SB — Rowley, Marlow.
IP H R ER BB SO
Gossman 2/3 2 4 4 2 0
Swain (W, 5-1) 7 1/3 8 2 2 1 5
IP H R ER BB SO
Ludwig 6 4 0 5 2 7
Crick (L) 2 4 2 3 1 0
WP — Swain. HBP — by Swain (Sykes), by Ludwig (Higgins).
Next — South (10-6 overall, 5-0 MIC) plays Friday against Center Grove. North (14-2, 4-1) plays Friday at Carmel.