WOODWARD — Senior Alissa Smeltzer made her last swing on her home diamond one to remember, driving a 0-1 pitch to the fence with two outs in bottom of the eighth inning to drive in Katelyn Bandstra with the winning run as Woodward-Granger topped South Hardin in their Class 2A Region 1 battle.
The win creates a long road trip Wednesday to third-ranked Jesup (28-9), but W-G head coach Jessica Wyant was more than happy to have a long journey added to the schedule.
“The record may not show it, but this team can battle with anyone when they put their minds to it and play like they are capable of playing,” she said. “We didn’t do everything right tonight and hurt ourselves at times, but we also showed real heart when we had to.”
“It will be a long bus ride to see a good opponent, but that might just give us time to get our heads right,” she said. “I am proud of the way they fought tonight.”
South Hardin (3-20) had threatened to be the team moving on after scoring in the top of the eighth to grab a 3-2 lead, only to have W-G (7-30) refuse to have their season end on Phil Creese field.
Walks to Brylee Bice and Chloe Hogue started the bottom of the eighth for the Hawks, with Bandstra’s fourth hit of the game loading the bases. Emma Anderson’s sacrifice fly to center field scored pinch runner Abby Pommrehn, who was on to run for Bice.
Natalie Weaver reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Houge at third base, setting the stage for Smeltzer’s heroics.
The Tigers scored an unearned run in the top of the first to grab a quick lead, but the Hawks countered in the second with consecutive RBI-singles from Bandstra and Anderson plating courtesy runner Alex Merhroff (on for Rian Jamison, who had singled) and Bice, aboard with a walk.
South Hardin scored once in the fifth to knot the score at 2-all, where it remained until the eighth.
Jamison went all eight innings for the win in the ring. She allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and four walks while striking out five.
Smeltzer had a double earlier in the game, with Jamison finishing with two hits to help spark the offense.
Shelby May took the loss, surrendering four runs on 11 hits and five walks. She struck out five.
Four different players had two hits apiece to fuel the Tiger attack.