Wildcats rally, but Mediapolis prevailsFreshman Ashley Machholz's pinch-hit single lifts the Bullettes to a 5-4 win
MEDIAPOLIS — With one out and a runner on third base in the sixth inning of a tied game, Mediapolis head coach Adam Smith sent Ashley Machholz to the plate as a pinch hitter. The freshman was nearly shaking in her cleats.
“I was like really nervous, obviously, because it’s a varsity game,” said Machholz, who had stepped to the plate just nine times in varsity games before Monday. “I just didn’t want to let my team down. I was hoping and praying that I’d make it and get through somewhere.”
She did. She singled up the middle, bringing teammate Rachel Diewold home to score the winning run and lift the Bullettes to a 5-4 win over visiting Columbus.
“She’s been having some really good at-bats early in the season and on JV,” Smith said of Machholz. “She’s been hitting the ball well, and she definitely came through.”
Machholz’s hit spoiled the Wildcats’ comeback effort. Columbus (6-10, 4-4 SEISC North) twice rallied to tie Monday’s game, but the Bullettes had an answer each time to top the pesky Wildcats.
“We’re tough late in games, I feel like, when we’re in it,” Smith said.
Mediapolis (5-6, 4-3 SEISC North) jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings. Senior Aubrey Siegle hit an RBI double in the first inning, and then scored on an error to make it 2-0, and then freshman Allie Massner doubled and scored on sophomore Chloe Siegle’s sacrifice bunt in the second.
Columbus tallied just one hit in the first three innings — a Heidi Duttlinger single — but got a spark when senior Caitlin Chaney tripled to right field to start the fourth inning. Chaney scored on sophomore Torie Johnston’s infield single, and then Duttlinger drove in a run when she grounded out to trim the Bullettes’ lead to 3-2.
The Wildcats tied the score in the fifth when junior Coree Winters reached on an error and then scored from first base when teammate Claire Hamilton bunted and Mediapolis catcher Allison Hedges threw the ball into right field.
The Bullettes regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Hedges doubled and scored on Aubrey Siegle’s single, but Columbus tied the score again in the sixth when junior Tarah Bean drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt.
But after Columbus tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, Machholz came through with a clutch pinch-hit single to win the game.
“We needed that, obviously,” Machholz said.
Aubrey Siegle, who allowed four runs, two of which were earned, on five hits in the contest, gave up a hit to Chaney with two outs in the seventh, but got senior Megan Pretz to pop up to end the game.
Mediapolis won despite making five defensive errors in the game.
“We talk a lot about picking each other up,” Smith said. “And when we do that, even if we make five errors, I feel like we can bounce back and stay in games.”
Hedges and Aubrey Siegle, the Bullettes’ Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, combined for five hits and three runs. Siegle went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, and Hedges was 2-for-3 and scored two runs.
“They’re two good hitters,” Columbus head coach Tim Milder said. “If we could have kept them off base, I think we would have done a lot better. I think they scored three runs between them.”
Machholz and Massner had the only other two Mediapolis hits of the game.
Pretz, who started in the pitcher’s circle for Columbus, allowed five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits. She struck out three batters and walked two.
Chaney went 2-for-4 with a triple to lead the Wildcats at the plate, while Johnston, Duttlinger and junior Brooklyn Milder each added a hit.
Even though the Wildcats fell short of a key road win, they were happy with the way they battled the Bullettes.
“I’m really proud of our team because we’ve been struggling with coming back once we get behind,” Chaney said. “But tonight we were just more confident in our hitting and our defense and everything and just showed it.”