In a low scoring affair, top-ranked Male used a strong last half of the game to defeat Manual 4-1 in seventh region softball action at Ulmer Stadium on Thursday evening.
“We always talk about winning the late innings, and we did that”, Male head coach Josh Bloomer said. “Late in the game I thought we struck it well.”
Jeanay Riley opened up the effort for Manual with an early homerun to right field in the bottom of the first inning. For Bloomer, it was eye-opening. “We threw a good pitch”, he explained, “but credit to her, she is just a special athlete.”
“I felt like in the third or fourth inning, we started to get a little anxious”, Bloomer said, “but we got through it and the girls responded.”
Ashlyn Zuberer kept the explosive Male offense quiet through the first four innings, but things took a turn in the fifth. With two outs and a runner on base, Megan Konermann hit a bomb over the fence in left, eventually reaching E Brandeis Ave beyond the scoreboard to give Male a 3-1 lead.
“In the beginning, the bats weren’t as hot as they usual are, but I knew that we were going to come back”, Male pitcher Kelsie Houchens added when explaining her confidence in the team’s offense.
A passed ball scored Madison McCoy in the seventh after she reached third on a triple, adding to the Lady Bulldog lead.
Even with the homerun in the first inning, Kelsie Houchens was spectacular in the circle on Thursday. The junior pitched seven complete innings, giving up only three hits and striking out nine. “Kelsie was great and I was really pleased with how she threw”, Bloomer said. “She did a good job controlling the zone and getting ahead; she’s been throwing lights out.”
“Whenever Riley hit the homerun, I just knew I had to come back and compete”, Houchens explained.
Looking back, Bloomer had nothing but praise for Manual. “That’s the best team we’ve played in our region up to this point and (Ashlyn) Zuberer threw a great game”, he said, “I have no doubt we’ll likely see them again in the next couple weeks.”
Male remains undefeated with a 28-0 record with the regular season concluding this weekend with games against Mercy, Christian County, and Scott County.
Manual drops to 27-3 and will return to action Friday evening back at Ulmer Stadium against Silver Creek.