Lakers rally with a walk-off in the 7th

The bats did not have any trouble finding the ball when Camdenton hosted Waynesville in an Ozark Conference showdown Monday night.

The Lakers and Tigers went back and forth, combining for 19 total runs that featured a grand slam for both sides. When the dust settled, Camdenton was the team left standing with a 10-9 win in walk-off fashion.

“That game had a lot of ebb and flow to it,” Camdenton coach Rick Calbert said. “Their side was up, our side was up and it is always fun.”

“That was a great game and a fun game to coach in for sure,” added Waynesville coach Scott Turner. “I’m sure it was the same way to play in for the girls. Anytime you come out here and get to go back and forth with a lot of emotion, fun and excitement, it is just a great game.”

However, there was a lot more at stake in Monday night’s game than just a conference win as both teams play in the same district and the district playoffs are just around the corner.

“We knew going in that there was a good chance that whoever won that game had a good chance of being the No. 1 seed in the district,” Calbert pointed out.

And Camdenton delivered.

With the score tied at 9 in the bottom of the seventh, Camdenton freshman Emma Rakes blasted a double to center field and soon became the game-winning run on a wild pitch that was intended to be an intentional walk to junior Shelby Webster. After a fly ball to the outfield from senior Jillian Selander was dropped, Rakes quickly made her way to third base. Once the pitch to Webster went to the backstop, the freshman darted towards home plate and was soon surrounded by a host of happy teammates.

“It was awesome. I knew I needed it for my team,” Rakes said of the play. “I was not thinking about myself getting on base. I was thinking about the team and we really needed that run... As soon as I saw the ball, I just took off running.”

But to even have the opportunity to win the game displayed just how much resiliency the Lakers have as they trailed twice at different points throughout the ballgame and refused to go away.

The first comeback came in the fourth inning. The game looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel between Camdenton junior Haile Farris and Waynesville sophomore Lacey Sprinkle with the Tigers commanding a 2-1 lead. Then the offenses showed up.

Selander tied the game with an RBI single and with the bases loaded, junior Shelby Webster smacked a grand slam over the wall in right-center to give the Lakers a 6-2 lead. In her previous at-bat, Webster sent a ball to the top of the wall in left field, but would not be denied this time around.

“My teammates gave me a hard time and told me I need to hit the weight room,” Webster jokingly said of the former hit. “I had to make an adjustment so I sent that one to right center and tried my best. Usually when I go up to bat, I just try to look for contact and anything I can get an RBI on.” 

Waynesville may have quickly found itself down, but the Tigers knew the game was far from over. It began with an RBI on a fielder’s choice from Sprinkle to cut the deficit to 6-3. With the bases loaded, Waynesville sophomore Taylor King proceeded to smack a grand slam of her own to take the lead back. An RBI-double from junior Afatia Poinsette and an RBI on an infield hit from senior Morgan Loggins quickly put the Tigers back up 9-6 in the fifth.

“Our two team mottos this year are teamwork and perseverance and we have to have those things because of situations like what we saw when they went up 6-2 with that grand slam,” Turner said of the team’s comeback. “It is very easy for teams to lay their heads down, especially when you are facing a powerhouse team like Camdenton, but teamwork and perseverance paid off.

“We persevered through that and we came back over and said, ‘We can score runs on this girl.’ We just have to refocus, get back to the plan and get back after it. That is just what we did,” he added.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it was the last time they would cross the plate. Camdenton answered right back with a sacrifice fly RBI from Selander, an RBI-double from Farris and an RBI-single from junior Fayth Rakes to tie it back up.

“Shelby’s hit was smoked and she is definitely one of the better hitters around,” Calbert said of the earlier grand slam. “But we’ve got some pretty good hitters that surround her. When they intentionally walked Shelby and you are challenging Haile with that circumstance, she stepped up and got a hit. Those are the things that build character in a player and just make the team better.”

Then, Farris settled down and kept the Waynesville bats quiet in the sixth to give her team a chance to win it in the seventh. The junior hurler pitched a complete game allowing nine earned runs on 12 hits and five walks while striking out nine batters respectively.

“Waynesville’s got several really good players,” Calbert pointed out. “They have a great girl behind the plate in Morgan (Loggins) and ‘Tia’ at shortstop is one of the better players in the conference so it is not an easy lineup to pitch against. I thought she (Haile) did a nice job and once she saw that we came back and tied it up, she really bowed her neck and worked hard.

“She is one of the better pitchers around. The score may not indicate it, but she threw a heck of a game, she really did. She did not have her best stuff tonight and that is the mark of a great pitcher that can win a ballgame without their best stuff. She is a shutdown pitcher, but she battled through, got the win and it was a huge win for us,” the coach added.

Farris’ teammates were thankful for her efforts as well.

“They (Waynesville) are a hitting team obviously and they showed us answering with that grand slam,” Webster noted. “She (Hailey) really held her composure pretty well... That win goes to Hailey.”

Sprinkle took the loss allowing eight earned runs on 14 hits with six walks and a strikeout. The Tiger bats were led by sophomore Malia Jenning’s three hits while Poinsette, sophomore Megan Pattison, King and freshman Isabella Pondrom added two hits each. King led the way with four RBIs while Poinsette added two and both Pattison and Sprinkle both finished with one.

Losing on a walk-off is never easy, but Turner was proud of his club’s effort and hopes they continued to show that fight moving forward.

“All of our girls did a great job supporting each other and laying everything out there that they had,” he said. “For us, we know we can compete with Camdenton and they feel it now too so that is a confidence-builder. That is the main thing- continue to keep striving, play through the tough times and you’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, the Laker offense was led by the bats of Selander and Webster who finished the night with three hits each while Farris, junior Sidney Jones and sophomore Raegan Waters posted two hits each. Webster finished the night with four RBIs, Selander recorded two and both Fayth and Farris recorded an RBI each.

Calbert said the thing he enjoyed most about Monday night’s win was that there were positive contributions from everyone.

“There is not a single person in this lineup that did not contribute something positive to win,” he said. “When you contribute something positive whether it is in the field, at the plate, or on the bases, we are going to be pretty tough to beat. That is what we are looking to do, like they say, kind of try to keep the line moving and try to do something positive every game.”

Camdenton (13-5, 5-2 Ozark Conference) was scheduled to visit Sedalia Smith-Cotton Tuesday night and the Lakers will return to action on Monday when they host Parkview at 4:30 p.m. Waynesville (6-10, 4-3 Ozark Conference) will host St. James on Wednesday at the same time.