By JUSTIN RAINS
For six innings, the defense of the Elkhart softball team kept them in and then ahead of visiting Groveton.
In the seventh, that same defense almost let the Lady Elks down, before it didn’t.
Elkhart scored twice in the third inning and held on from there, avenging a heartbreaking loss from earlier in the season and keeping playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win over the visiting Indians.
“I’m super-proud,” EHS coach Brandy Martin said. “I’ve said all along this team has a lot of heart, and they showed that in the last inning. We have heart and we stayed in it and we didn’t give up. That’s the team I know.”
With the Lady Elks up 2-0, the defense that had been so stellar all game long faltered in the seventh, but not before flashing its brilliance once again.
Groveton began the inning with a long drive to center over the head of Elkhart centerfielder Courtney Lindsey. But, Lindsey was quick to the ball and fired in to Courtney Cheatham at second for the first out.
Then, the Lady Indians put a runner on second thanks to two errors in the outfield, and put runners at the corners when first baseman Alicia Lipscomb couldn’t hold onto a throw from shortstop Tiffany Rosas.
Groveton’s run scored when a groundball skipped under the glove of Rosas and put runners at first and second.
That’s when senior catcher Larami McAdams gathered her infielders inside the pitcher’s circle.
“I told them that we were fine, just get the outs,” she said. “And, we did.”
From there, pitcher Catie Bridges got a line out and a strike out to seal the victory.
Elkhart’s fancy glove-work started in the third, when a line drive from Groveton’s Jordyn Rogers was snagged by leaping third baseman Robin Grant to end the inning. If the hit would have scored at least one run, if not two, had it gone over Grant’s head.
Grant again flashed the leather in the fourth when, with runners at second and third and one out, a hard grounder was hit down the line.
Grant snagged the ball, tagged the runner retreating for third and then threw to Lipscomb at first to complete the inning-ending double-play.
McAdams got in on the act in the fifth, when she corralled a popped-up bunt before gunning down a runner caught lingering off of first base for the double-play.
“In the beginning of our season, I said that our defense was our backbone,” Martin said. “We’ve had our ups and downs with it, but it’s revived. When we play like that, it revives our girls’ spirits and hopes.”
Elkhart did all of its offensive damage in the third, when Rosas reached on an error, and Lindsey then got on with a bunt single that moved Rosas to second.
Megan Davis then looped a single to right field that scored Rosas to put the Elks up 1-0, and Lindsey later came around to score on an error.
“I think this has been the best game we’ve played so far,” McAdams said after the win. “Now we still have a chance to go to the playoffs, which in my senior year, would be good.”
Elkhart could have added to the lead later in the inning, but it was determined that Davis left third too early on a pitch, ending the frame.
That same thing happened in the sixth, when McAdams was called out for leaving too early on a fly ball from Tracey Clewis that easily scored her.
The Lady Elks still need some help to make the postseason, however.
Central Heights beat Woden Friday, 1-0, meaning that the Lady Devils can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Groveton Tuesday.
If Groveton beats Central Heights, then Elkhart gets in with a win over the Lady Devils next Saturday in the season-finale.