The Davenport North softball team was three outs away from being another doubleheader sweep victim of Class 5A top-ranked Muscatine.
The Wildcats decided they did not want to be part of that result. North scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to stun the Muskies 7-6 and earn a split of the Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader on Thursday night in Davenport.
The Muskies (9-2 overall, 4-2 MAC) won the opener 10-0 in five innings and looked to be in good position for the sweep, leading 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh. Bree Seaman, who won the first game for the visitors, was trying to save the win for Maura Chalupa.
But Seaman walked the opening batter of the inning in North’s Kenzie Tronnes, and the momentum started to shift. Morgan Newmyer, who picked up the win in the circle by going all seven innings, and Lexie Carstens followed with base hits to load things up.
The Wildcats (8-4, 2-4) got a run in on an error from the Muskies that left the score 6-4 and the bases still loaded. Ivy Wilmington and Maddy Wardlow followed with clutch base hits that drove in the runs that tied the game at 6-6 and also sent the North dugout into a frenzy.
Senior right fielder Maya Beasley stepped to the plate with two outs and Wilmington still on second base. On a 3-2 pitch, she drove a shot into the left-center field gap that Muscatine left fielder Olivia Harmon dove for and missed by inches. Wilmington scored from second and sent North home with its biggest regular-season win in years.
“I saw (the hit) off the bat and I hoped it would get past her but running to first base, I did not see the hit (fall). But I saw the coach’s reaction (at first base) and heard the noise,” Beasley said of her game-winner. “I was just a little nervous, just trying to get a base hit. This is a huge win for us with (Muscatine) being No. 1 in the state.”
Wilmington led the Wildcats in hitting in the second game with a pair of doubles and one of the key RBIs in the seventh. The senior said nobody should take North for granted, even though Muscatine dominated the opening contest.
“Maybe a lot of people thought what happened in the first game was going to happen again (in the second game),” Wilmington said. “I think that says a lot about us and our motivation to never give up. We showed a lot of heart in that situation. This game is all about teamwork and hits are contagious, and once we got going (in the seventh), it just kept going.
“This is huge for our confidence because we still have some tough teams to play coming up soon.
Muscatine got out to a 2-0 lead after a two-run single from Becca Haag in the first inning. The Muskies eventually pushed the lead to 5-1 in the fifth after getting some runs on an error, a wild pitch and an RBI single from Kaylynn Salyars. But North got it back to 5-3 after a two-run single from Newmyer in the Wildcats’ half of the fifth.
Rylie Moss tacked on an RBI single in Muscatine’s half of the seventh to leave the edge at 6-3 before North’s winning rally.
Seaman got the win in the opening game, going all five innings. Moss had a two-run double and Seaman helped herself with a two-run homer in the win. Kaylynn Salyars had a two-run homer as well. Harmon, Aricka Ramser, Brylee Seaman and Kyleia Salyars also drove in runs in the first game for Muscatine.
Still, this second-game loss might come back to haunt the Muskies in a tight MAC race with, among other teams, Davenport Assumption.
“We had some letdowns here and there and we gave (North) some opportunities, but credit to them for capitalizing on it,” Muskies coach Steve Hopkins said. “I was a little disappointed that we had opportunities to put the game away by scoring more runs and we just couldn’t execute when we needed to. But credit to North for doing what they needed to do.
“We just need to continue to work hard and carry over what we do in practice into game situations. We need to work on our mental toughness when things are down. We still need to stay focused and confident in those situations.”