Foard edges Bunker Hill in extra innings again

Michael Christopher
Sports Editor

Another matchup with Bunker Hill, another extra-inning win for the Fred T. Foard softball team.

The Tigers extended their winning streak, which now moves to 15 games, with a 3-2 win in eight innings on Tuesday.
"It's just two good ball teams. I've got a lot of respect for them and I know a lot of their girls," Foard head softball coach Roland Wright said. "I've seen them growing up. They've played our girls growing up. It's always been a battle with Mountain View rec., Bunker Hill rec. Those girls don't quit, our girls don't quit."

The victory assures Foard, the No. 4 ranked team in Class 2A, at least a share of the Northwestern Foothills 2A conference title. The loss for the No. 23 ranked Bunker Hill means they will need to win out and perhaps get some help from other teams in order to secure the No. 2 conference seed for a playoff spot.
"I think a lot of times they calm me down because I get excited. I get really excited and there are times I catch myself and say, 'I've got to slow this thing down,'" Wright said. "Our message is always it's a ball game. There are more important things in life. We being with prayer, we end with prayer. We know who our creator is and we try to keep things in perspective."

Foard's Harley Gilland singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and was then replaced by pinch-runner Kayla Yoder. Leadoff hitter Abby Settlemyre laid down a bunt that allowed Yoder to go from first to third with the Foard senior taking second on the throw to third, setting up the go-ahead run in scoring position for Morgan Loftin.
"Harley's been swinging the bat well. She's been hurt. She's just now coming back to where she's getting to play a little bit and we're trying to groove her in JV and she was varsity last year. She's been stroking the ball well. She may be 4-for-4 in her last four at-bats, I'm not sure. She got back into because my left fielder was hurt and she had a bad leg so we had to burn her. And Harley's been coming off an injury so I was hoping she could hit, get on and then I could put fresh legs in with Kayla (Yoder). And then come back with Abby (Settlemyre) and she's always a threat.

Standing in the left-handed batter's box Loftin attempted to use her speed and attempted a bunt. With two strikes on her, she hit the ball off the end of her bat that dribbled in between Bunker Hill starting pitcher Payton Bryant and third baseman Cammie Bryant. But the speed of Yoder prevailed as she just beat a soft toss to score the game-winning run.
"The freshman Yoder made a great decision. We practice it all the time first to third. You see it, you go for it. You don't make it, you tried. I won't get on to you about it. However if she wouldn't have made it that would've been hard to swallow," the Tigers coach said. "She knew her job and did it. And of course, she had a good baserunner behind her. And with Morgan (Loftin) do what you can do. Try to hit or whatever. We actually called bunt. She missed it then she fouled one off. Then she had a swinging bunt which worked just as good. She had Madison (Rowe) on deck with maybe one out. Just get the ball in play."

Following a season-opening loss to Maiden, the Tigers have now won 15 straight. So what's their secret?
"We actually have a lucky hanger," Loftin said. "We found it at South Caldwell. We took it, we started winning with it so we take it to every game. We hang it up on the fence and if we're not doing good we flip the hanger around. And that's our lucky thing right now."

Foard took an early 1-0 lead after an inning of play. Settlemyre singled to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second base, and on her attempt to steal third base Bunker Hill catcher’s Alexis McCray throw to third baseman Cammie Bryant was on target by on Settlemyre’s slide her helmet appeared to hit her in the face and the ball trickled into shallow left field allowing the University of North Carolina signee to score the game’s first run.

The Bears tied the game on a throwing error in the top of the fifth. McCrary singled to lead off then she moved second on a sacrifice fly by Kailey Travis. The next batter, Addie Wray, put down a bunt in between Foard players and third baseman Madison Rowe picked it up and made an errant throw into shallow right field allowing McCray to score and tie the game at 1-1.

The Tigers responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Breanna Minton hit a one-out double then Katelynn Thompson and Gilland earned back-to-back walks to load the bases. Then Settlemyre hit a soft grounder to second base where Bunker Hill second baseman Travis tagged a runner allowing Sullivan to score the go-ahead run.
"We're one," Gilland said. "We trust each other and knows that everybody has each other's backs. So we know if we get on the next person who comes up to bat is going to try everything that they can to bring us around the bases."

Bunker Hill tied the game in the top of the seventh thanks to two hits and an error. McCrary hit a one-double and pinch runner Grace Pennington scored on Travis’ single down the left field line.
"This is a same song different verse I guess. It's an eight-inning one-run loss," Bunker Hill head softball coach Randy Joines said. "You've got to give them credit. They did what they had to do to win the ball game. I thought our kids were pretty good themselves tonight. The first time we faced them we had multiple strikeouts. Tonight we put the ball in play against a very good pitcher so that gives us confidence down the road.