By Josh Brown
PLEASANT HILL — Newton softball coach Mark Gibson knew better than to count his team out.
“When the last out was made,” he said when asked when he felt the game was out of reach.
After the way the Indians began Saturday, no deficit may look too big to overcome again the rest of the season.
Newton fought back from a 9-0 deficit after three innings against Butler, scoring six in the fifth and then three more in the bottom of the seventh to claim a 10-9 walk-off victory in Saturday’s opening game of the Fourth Annual Strike Out Cancer Classic softball tournament at Newton High School, In the second game, though, the Indians couldn’t mount another comeback in the final inning, falling 7-5 to Ben Logan to make their record 9-1 on the season.
“The girls fought all weekend,” Gibson said. “Our first loss of the season — obviously, you’re never planning to lose. Your goal is to win. But the way we competed in these two games today, to fight with teams like Butler and Ben Logan up until the last pitch, that means more.”
Newton kicked off the tournament Friday night with a 10-0 victory over Tippecanoe.
Haley Pack was 2 for 2 with three RBIs, hitting a three-run homer, and Kylee Fisher doubled and had three RBIs to lead the Indian offense. Kacie Tackett drove in two runs and Kristen Rappold — who struck out three and only allowed three hits to record a shutout on the mound — was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
Things didn’t begin well against Butler, though, as the Aviators scored four in the first, three in the second and two more in the third to take a 9-0 lead before the Indians finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Tackett and Rappold.
In the fifth, though, the Indians changed the game.
Kara Chaney led off with a single and Baily Chaney drew a walk, then Tackett ripped a two-run double with one out to make it a 9-3 game. A walk and an RBI single by Kylee Fisher followed, then Maddie Weaver drove in another run with an RBI groundout. Brooke Deeter put an exclamation point on the inning by pulling a two-run home run off the foul pole in left field, and suddenly Newton only trailed 9-7.
That’s the way things stayed until the bottom of the seventh. Rappold drew a walk to lead off and Weaver hit a one-out single to put two runners on. Erin Norman came up with two outs and runners on second and third and hit a fly ball to right field — but the fielder dropped it, allowing the tying runs both to come home. Kara Chaney then singled to put runners on the corners, and Norman was able to score the game-winner on an error off the bat of Baily Chaney.
“The girls fought all weekend,” Gibson said. “Tipp City Friday, Butler today with the big comeback. And the biggest thing I told them going into that last game against a very good Ben Logan team was, you know, you can’t have a letdown. You’ve got to forget about all the excitement that just happened. You can carry the momentum with you, but you can’t let it make you overlook the next team.”
Ben Logan jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a bloop single and two infield singles to bring home one run, and then a wild pitch and an error on the same play to plate two more. Newton answered, though, with Tackett hitting yet another RBI double and eventually scoring on an RBI groundout by Fisher to make it a 3-2 game.
The Indians then took the lead in the bottom of the third. Rappold singled, Fisher reached on an error and Weaver was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, and Norman ripped a solid two-run single to give Newton a 4-3 lead.
“They jumped on us quick, but we didn’t let up,” Gibson said. “They (Ben Logan) kept hitting the ball and putting pressure on us. And they continued to respond. Every time we fought back and gave everything we had it seemed like, they’d put two or three back up. That’s what’s going to happen when you play good teams, too. You just have to battle through it.”
Ben Logan scored three in the top of the fourth to retake the lead. A walk and an error on a sac bunt attempt put runners on second and third with one out, one run scored on a wild pitch to tie the game and Darian Rockhold hit an RBI single to give the lead back to the Raiders. After a pickoff attempt to catch the lead runner trying to go to third and then another infield single, Grace Deardurff hit an RBI single to add some insurance, making it 6-4.
The Indians scored in the fifth on an RBI single by Deeter to cut the lead to one, but a two-out bloop RBI single by Rockhold made it a 7-5 game. Newton threatened to start the bottom of the seventh as Rappold reached on an error to lead off, but a pinch runner was caught attempting to steal on a ball in the dirt that didn’t get far enough away from the catcher, and Ben Logan retired the side from there.
“We’re going to take a loss. It is what it is. It’s a game,” Gibson said. “But my biggest thing is competing. And when you compete with teams like that, you get better.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
Newton’s Kristen Rappold takes a pitch Saturday against Butler.