BLUFFTON – There is one truism for all the Northwest Conference softball teams — you have to beat Crestview if you want to win a league title.
The Knights showed why they are the team beat again this season as they improved to 11-1 overall and 4-0 in the NWC when they bested Bluffton by a 9-5 final score Thursday afternoon.
After two scoreless innings, Crestview scored twice in the top of the third to grab a 2-0 lead. Avery McCoy led off with a single for the Knights and Kenidy Spieth coaxed a walk before singles by Tianna Rager and Cora Millay drove in runs.
But Bluffton answered in the bottom of the inning when Taylor Monday was hit by a pitch with two outs and Sami Fruchey, Abbie Parkins, and Katie Prater all followed with singles to tie the game at two going to the fourth inning.
Crestview lead-off batter Sydney Bowen reached via a walk and Kristen Etzler drove her home with a solid double to left field and the Knights were up 3-2.
The Pirates (6-4, 1-3 NWC) answered again when Aimee Ritter and Ameri Siferd singled to open the bottom of the fourth inning. A couple of wild pitches and a throwing error led to two runs and Bluffton found themselves with a 4-3 lead after four innings of play.
The Knights would tie the game at 4-4 with a run in the fifth but a big sixth inning turned the game in their favor.
McCoy, a freshman, led off the inning with a deep drive to center that centerfielder Alivia Koenig leaped at the fence for but the ball hit the top of her glove and went over the fence for a home run that put Crestview up 5-4.
The homer seemed to fire up the Knights who would go on to add three more runs in the inning to take a 8-4 lead.
Both teams would add another run to their totals to account for the final score.
“We are having a real solid year and have had some real heart breakers with close losses,” Bluffton coach Tony Rumer said. “We are excited about our ball club with only two seniors, Fruchey and Monday, plus we are starting four freshmen. Those two seniors have been great with our underclassmen in helping and teaching them.”
The four freshmen who start for Bluffton are Prater, Koenig, Siferd and shortstop Avery Rumer.
Catcher Prater and Koenig both had two hits to pace the Pirates offense.
Crestview got a perfect 4-for-4 night at the plate by Millay in addition to two hits from both McCoy and Rager.
“We needed this win and knew it would be a fight and a battle,” Crestview coach Carl Etzler said. “We went up 2-0 and they responded and went ahead; but everybody contributed for us and we relied on each other. They are responding to what we are trying to get them to do.”
Fruchey was the tough luck losing pitcher for Bluffton while Jada Preston threw a complete game effort to get the win for Crestview and improve to 9-1 on the season.