CONVOY – Bluffton hitters seemed to sprinting to the plate in the sixth inning.
And why not?
Bluffton sent 12 batters to the plate in an eight-run sixth inning.
That was more than enough to power Bluffton an impressive 16-5 softball victory over Crestview Friday at Crestview.
And consider Crestview led 5-1 after three innings.
“I knew I was a little shaky out there (on the mound early), but I went in and told my teammates that we have to keep each other up,” Bluffton pitcher Libby Schaadt said. “And if we keep each other up, we’re going to win it.’’
Bluffton scored two in the fourth to get within 5-3 before the Pirates’ eight-run onslaught in the sixth to pull ahead 11-5.
“We knew we’d play one heck of a high school team in Crestview and we knew they’d throw some punches at us,” Bluffton coach Tony Rumer said. “We had to keep our heads up and keep coming back. I’m so proud of the girls, one through nine. They put pressure on the defense, constantly, and that’s huge.’’
Schaadt picked up the win and delivered the key hit, a three-run home run in the sixth, to give the Pirates the lead to stay 7-5.
Bluffton, which defeated Crestview for the second year in a row, is 7-1, 2-0 in the Northwest Conference.
Crestview is 6-3, 1-1 in the NWC.
Bluffton pounded out 20 hits, with eight of the nine hitters in the lineup getting a hit. Every Bluffton hitter scored at least one run.
“We continue to improve,” coach Rumer said. “That’s all I ask this time of the year.’’
For Bluffton, freshman Sophie Bricker went 4 for 5 with three RBI.
Averey Rumer went 3 for 5. Brinkley Garmatter was 3 for 6 with three RBI.
Katie Prater went 2 for 6 with two RBI.
Schaadt was 2 for 5 with a home run and three RBI.
Freshman Riley Busch went 3 for 5. Madison Fleece was 2 for 5 with two RBI.
“I’m so happy with our freshmen,” Schaadt. “They see it’s (hitting) contagious and they use that energy and go up and hit the ball.’’
Crestview scored five in the second to take a 5-1 lead.
Schaadt said she made an adjustment after the second inning.
“I like to speed up (on the mound), but I realized that inning that I was slowing down,” she said. “I told myself after that I need to speed it up.’’
Added coach Rumer, “Libby’s a wonderful pitcher and she knows what’s working for and what’s not working for her.’’
The Knights’ Caitlin O’Hagan had a three-run double to give Crestview a 5-1 lead.
But the junior Schaadt settled in after that and pitched shutout, three-hit ball the rest of the way.
Schaadt, a three-year starter, went the distance for the Pirates. She gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. She struck out 10 and walked two.
Schaadt threw 115 pitches, 82 for strikes.
Bluffton scored two in the fourth to get within 5-3.
The Pirates then lit the scoreboard up in the sixth.
Fleece started the inning with a double. Garmatter’s RBI double brought Bluffton within 5-4.
Prater singled to put two runners on.
Up came Schaadt, who drilled a 2-1 pitch well over the center-field fence for her second home run of the year. The three-run blast gave Bluffton a 7-5 lead.
“Yea, I could feel it,” Schaadt said of her home run.
Coach Rumer said, “It’s a big momentum game. We got it at that point and didn’t let up.’’
The Pirates continued knocking the ball silly, sending eight more hitters to the plate in the inning.
Bricker’s RBI single made it 8-5.
Then, Garmatter had another hit in the inning, a two-run single, and it was 11-5. Garmatter had two hits and three RBI in the sixth.
If that wasn’t enough, Bluffton tacked on five more runs in the seventh to finish it off at 16-5.