COLDWATER — The Versailles softball team won its Midwest Athletic Conference opener on Thursday, defeating Coldwater 8-5.
Versailles coach Mechelle Heitkamp said she was pleased with her team’s performance in the victory and really happy with the team’s energy.
“I was pretty happy,” Heitkamp said. “We still have a few things we need to work on, but I thought communication was good. I thought our pitch selection at the plate was nice, too, getting a little more disciplined there. I just thought the girls overall had positive energy and came ready to play, which was nice.”
Versailles’ strong pitch selection was helpful from the beginning of the game as a pair of back-to-back walks to Kristin Langston and Miranda Huddle set the stage for a big Lady Tiger rally. After the back-to-back walks, Megan Murphy put down a bunt single to load the bases with no outs in the opening inning.
A wild pitch then allowed all three runners to advance, scoring Langston and giving Versailles a 1-0 lead.
The rally continued as Kayla McEldowney grounded to short. The Cavaliers tried to get Huddle out at home, but she beat the throw and scored to increase Versailles’ lead to 2-0.
Coldwater got the first out of the inning when Rachel Kremer hit a sacrifice grounder, driving in Murphy for a lead 3-0 lead.
Then after a walk to Aimee Powell and an infield single by Shaena Mayer loaded the bases, Courtney McEldowney hit a sacrifice grounder to score Kayla McEldowney and give Versailles a 4-0 lead.
Coldwater cut into Versailles’ lead in the bottom of the first, beginning with a single by Joelle Hemmelgarn and a walk to Angie Klosterman. After a sacrifice bunt by Kelsey Koesters advanced the runners, both runners scored on a single by Jenna Black to cut Versailles’ lead to 4-2.
The Cavaliers further cut into the Tigers’ lead in the third inning.
Koesters hit a one-out double to start the rally. After an error and a walk loaded the bases, Koesters scored on a shot into the outfield by Leah Homan to make the score 4-3.
Coldwater took its first lead of the game with two more runs in the fourth inning.
Ashley Backs, Karla Borgerding and Hemmelgarn began the inning with three consecutive singles, bring in the tying run for a 4-4 score.
Versailles then recorded an out, but Koesters came through with a double to drive in a run and give Coldwater a 5-4 lead.
The Cavaliers didn’t hold the advantage for long as the Tigers responded in the top of the fifth to regain the lead.
“I thought they did a nice job,” coach Heitkamp said of her players. “I thought their energy, they stayed up even though we were down, and I think that’s key in softball, trying to keep the momentum, have a good defensive inning, use that momentum to help you on the offensive side.”
Huddle led off the fifth with a single, and Murphy again put down a successful bunt single.
A sacrifice popup by Kayla McEldowney and aggressive base running by Huddle advanced the lead runner to third, after which Murphy took second base uncontested to give Versailles a pair of runners in scoring position.
A sacrifice fly by Kremer scored Huddle to tie the game at 5-5, and with the ball kicking away from the Coldwater catcher, Murphy was able to come around from second and score, too, regaining the lead for Versailles at 6-5.
Versailles added a pair of insurance runs in the top half of the sixth inning as Murphy hit a two-out single to score Lauren Heitkamp and Langston for an 8-5 advantage.
Meanwhile Versailles pitcher Rachel Wenning and the Tiger defense kept the Cavaliers from scoring the final three innings to preserve the win, 8-5.
Versailles had eight hits in the game and stranded seven runners. Coldwater had 10 hits and stranded nine. Versailles made two errors while Coldwater committed none.
Versailles improved to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the MAC with the win and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Coach Heitkamp said she hopes the weather remains nice so her team can get more games in and build off the momentum of Thursday’s win.
“It’s tough getting in sync with playing a few games and then being off,” she said. “So hopefully with this nice weather we’ll get things figured out.”