ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria’s softball team has had twice as many games as Anderson has had times on the field — games and practices — so far this unseasonably cold season.
However, Anderson did present the Tigers a very formidable challenge and really should have emerged with an upset victory.
But a dropped fly ball that would have been the final out kept Alexandria alive and ultimately enabled the Tigers to grab a 7-6 win in eight innings.
Keanna Alberts’ single to deep center field against a drawn-in infield provided the margin for the Tigers (8-2), who rebounded from a 14-3 defeat to Pendleton Heights in last week’s Madison County Softball Tournament title game.
“We came together as a team, and we fought as a team,” Alexandria coach Sarah Almack said. “We had players playing different positions, where they haven’t played all year, and they stepped up.”
The Tigers overcame deficits of 3-0 and 6-3 against an Indians side (0-3) that fell 15-13 to Alexandria last week in the county tourney’s first round.
Alexandria got a pair of hits each from Alberts, Kaitlyn Bair and all-everything lead-off hitter Mackenzie McCarty (two doubles). The Tigers ended with 10 hits and also benefited from three walks and two seventh-inning errors by Anderson.
The Indians got the jump on Alexandria and its starter, Abby Burnett, with their second batter, Emma Kelley, who homered to left-center.
Anderson made it 3-0 in the third, as Shelby Southerland drove Kelley in with a single, and Ally Partlow’s grounder to second scored Sierra Cunningham.
Alexandria struck back with a pair in the fourth. A single by Mackenzie Swango plated Bair, and Miki Murphy — who had walked — scored on a wild pitch.
The Tigers got three straight singles the next inning. The third was by Murphy, and that brought Alberts home with the tying run.
Anderson retook the lead in the sixth, when Shelby Wright reached on a two-base error, and that scored Jalin Smith (singled) and Savannah Coon (walked). Courtesy runner Azariah Fuller went home from third on a wild pitch.
In the last of the sixth, after Kirsten VanHorn singled and Alliyah Standridge reached on a fielder’s choice, McCarty belted a double to center and drove both runners in.
Bair led off the Tiger seventh taking first on an infield error. Her team was down to its last out with Swango up, and the freshman catcher lifted a fly ball to left. However, it wasn’t caught and would end up near the fence, and Bair thundered home from first and it was 6-all.
Anderson got a single from Coon in its eighth, but she was stranded on third.
In the Alexandria eighth, VanHorn walked and was sacrificed to second. McCarty took a 2-1 count, but Anderson coach Mike Lee opted to have the Ball State recruit intentionally walked to set up a double play. Lee then had left fielder Southerland moved up to the fringe of the outfield for Alberts’ at-bat.
The shift was to no avail. Alberts stroked one to deep center, and VanHorn came home.
“I’m very proud of them because they didn’t give up, and they fought,” Almack said. “They could have given up, but they didn’t. My offense produces, and that’s what I need. I don’t have to rely just on one girl.”
Freshman Allie Gast was the winning pitcher, going the final 2 1/3 innings following Burnett and Alexis Bean.
Kelley led the Indians with two of their six hits. Wright started and gave up just one hit in her initial three-inning stint, then returned to the circle in the fifth, after an inning by Kalin Hubble.
Lee said this was just the fifth time his team has been outside this season, and he has had a few girls not at 100 percent.
“We continue to improve,” he said. “It’s been a very slow start for us. (But) I thought we played well today.”
Both teams’ next games are against Frankton, with Anderson traveling on Wednesday and Alexandria getting the Eagles on Thursday at home. -Rob Hunt