Fourth inning sinks Blackhawks

By Christopher Tenpenny

The final loss of a season is difficult for every team and this was the case for the Adrian softball team as the Blackhawks lost to Skyline 5-4 in the Class 2 Quarter-finals May 17 in Adrian.

The Blackhawks outplayed Skyline in every inning, but the fourth, which turned to be the difference in the game. After Adrian starting pitcher Braylen Ford cruised through the first three innings, Skyline’s middle of the order was able to get to her the second time through the lineup. Three straight hits produced two runs and the Blackhawks found themselves down 2-0.

Adrian looked like they might be able to get out of the inning with no more damage but three errors, a passed ball and one single later added three more runs on the board. Adrian trailed 5-0.

“We settled in, had a few good innings and then the fourth inning rolls along,” Adrian head coach Jennie Jaynes said. “One error turned into several. They escalated quickly and that was the only inning Skyline scored in. That’s heartbreaking, looking back at it, but when the girls came in, we told them they could be done or go make it a game. They fought and gave it everything they had.”

Adrian answered right away as Lauren Sams ripped a two-out double and Elyse Evans singled her home to put Adrian on the board. Freshman Harlee Newkirk connected on an RBI triple and the Blackhawks found themselves trailing 5-2 after four innings.

Adrian would score again in the sixth after Ford led off the inning with a double. After Ford advanced to third, Evans laid down a bunt to get her home to make it 5- 3. With two outs in the inning, Newkirk found the gap for a double and would later score on a single by Shelby Gach. The Blackhawks were withing one.

Newkirk was one of the girls to make an error in the fourth inning and the freshman responded with two key extra base hits.

“She has been rock solid for us all year,” Jaynes said. “We threw her into the fire and she played all season for us. She could’ve folded after that fourth inning and instead her teammates picked her up and she came up to the plate with confidence and was able to hit a triple and double in her next two at-bats. Those are the things you love to see as a coach. She has a great career ahead of her.”

Ford continued to keep Skyline from adding to its lead so the Blackhawks entered the bottom of the seventh inning down a run.

With two outs, Madyson Shaffer hit a single and later advanced to second as the tying run. With Ford at the plate, she lined one right to the third baseman to end the game.

The Blackhawks ended the season with a 20-7 record and a district championship.

This was also the last game for Jaynes as she has taken a coaching position at Ray-Pec next year.

“That makes this loss even more difficult because I am saying goodbye to one of, if not the best group of ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Jaynes said. “We prided ourselves on doing everything together, win or lose, we did so as a team. To see them give everything they have for one another has been incredible. I could not be prouder of this group.”