Brownsburg’s softball team had the game in hand, but let it slip away.
Leading 4-0 starting the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bulldogs gave up four runs before falling 5-4 in nine innings to Southport in the sectional opener.
“I want it back,” Brownsburg coach Alyssa Huffman said. “I want a few opportunities back but I guess that’s the way it is with any loss.”
Brownsburg appeared to be headed to a meeting with rival Avon Wednesday night, only three outs away before the Cardinals roared back.
A Madison Kendall double to the fence got it started for Southport as they singled three straight time following bringing in three runs. Courtney Lockwood drove in a runner to tie the score at 4-4 after a crazy swing of momentum in the final inning.
“They got a couple of hits which I think flustered us both pitching wise and defensively and then we couldn’t quite recover and we lost the momentum,” Huffman said. “That lack of momentum carried over to our offense and we couldn’t get it going.”
Brownsburg got a single from Carlie Weaver in the eighth and a single from Kelsey Reinhardt in the ninth but the Bulldogs were unable to muster any other offense.
Southport had two outs after its first two at-bats in the ninth inning but would not go away.
Grace Clark got on first after an error fielding, then stole second and the advanced to third after a wild pitch. The next Cardinal batter was walked and Lockwood sent a hard grounder to second base that scored Clark and cued the celebration from the Southport dugout.
The postgame huddle was especially difficult for Huffman to talk with her girls.
“There’s nothing you can say especially to the seniors,” she said. “I just told them we didn’t have enough tonight, enough as a whole team to pull it out together.”
The game started off well for the Bulldogs. Weaver brought in Ally Carver for the first score in the second inning. Two batters later, Candice Williams brought in Kayle Comer and Weaver with a grounder to midfield.
“The girls made that a goal at the very beginning of the season to jump on teams early, get the momentum early and keep it,” Huffman said. “They did a fantastic job doing that, we’ve had a tough time keeping that through the later innings and tonight was another example. Although they kept their energy, we tacked on another run later on but it wasn’t enough.”
Twice in both the second and fourth innings, Weaver delivered from the mound. The junior pitcher threw eight strikeouts on the evening but no two were bigger than the ones she pitched to end those innings.
With bases loaded and two outs on both occasions, Weaver struckout Cardinals junior Madison Kendall swinging each time.
“That is a mentally tough pitcher coming up to the plate knowing that her team has her back but wanting to do it herself and that is exactly what she did,” Huffman said. “Those were huge.”
The Bulldogs graduate four girls from this season’s squad in Comer, Brie Frame, Natalie Kroll and Rachel Fiscus.
Huffman appreciated what Comer, Kroll and Fiscus, all multiple sport athletes, brought to the team.
“What you get with them that you don’t always get with other softball players is there just always seems to be more of a drive to compete,” she said. “There is just something different to the game that they bring than everyone else.”