MERRILLVILLE | During Monday’s two-hour practice Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon talked about “prime time at-bats.”
“A prime time at-bat is when you’re at the plate and it’s a situation where you can get a run because there’s a runner on second or third,” Baker-Runyon said. “You have to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense.”
Exhibit A was Brenna Boyle’s eighth-inning at-bat that begat a 2-1 win for Times No. 10 Andrean over visiting No. 8 Kankakee Valley Tuesday evening.
With runners on first and third and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 1-1 Northwest Crossroads Conference stalemate, Boyle lofted a two-out fly ball into shallow left-center field. Three converging Kougars could not make a play, and the ball fell in for a walk-off single.
“My teammates put me into a position where we could score a run,” Boyle said. “I just had to put it in play and put pressure on the defense when we had that opportunity.
“We learned from our at-bats as the game went on. We got better every inning.”
Boyle’s bloop scored Christiana Jerry and gave her the win as the pitcher.
The only mark against Boyle was an unearned run in the fourth inning courtesy of two errors.
She had a solid mix of location and often used high heat to induce strikeouts. She fanned eight and walked three in a three-hit complete game, surviving four errors behind her.
“It was always in our head to stay up and stay tough,” Boyle said. “Defensively we never let our heads down. When someone made a mistake, we picked them up.”
The 59ers (8-5, 5-4) tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Madison Lesch hit a drop shot about five feet in front of the plate to score Jessica Pruitt, who was the first of three walks that loaded the bases.
“Between us and K.V., no one was hitting the ball well or seeing it well,” Baker-Runyon said. “I told them it was all about scrambling up a run.”
K.V. pitcher Lauren Cambe, an offseason pupil of Baker-Runyon and her father, cruised for five innings, but then the walks started adding up. Still slowed by an early season arm injury she walked 10, including six across the sixth and seventh innings. She held Andrean to two hits before the three singles in the bottom of the eighth.
“Our defense was good and picked her up,” K.V. coach Brian Flynn said. “I was really proud of her effort.”
Courtesy runner Kaitlyn Jones scored the lone run for the Kougars (10-5, 4-5), who had beaten Andrean earlier in the season.
“This was two quality teams that were competing,” Flynn said. “That’s how a game like that’s supposed to be.”