Unfortunately, the final run to complete the momentum shift proved to be elusive and never came in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.
One run was all Eldon needed.
Trailing 3-0 after three innings on Tuesday, the Mustangs were able to get two runs back in a battle with Russellville for Senior Night. Unfortunately, that final run to complete the momentum shift proved to be elusive and never came in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.
"My hats off to these girls. We came out tonight and made some mistakes but were able to rally behind each other and get back in it," said Eldon coach Dusty Purnell who commended the fight of his team. "Early in the first inning is where we kind of let down and had one mental mistake that cost us later in the first giving up two runs. Other than that, they fought their tails off. There is good and bad with everything, but there was more good tonight than bad."
It was the seventh game Eldon (5-22, 1-5 Tri-County Conference) has played in this season that has been decided by a single run. The Mustangs are 2-5 in those games including last night's loss to a Russellville team that is 16-5 on the year.
"We are always in it. Russellville is a good club right now and are playing well. We are turning things around and starting to play well ourselves as we showed tonight," Purnell said. "If you look at records, they probably should have put it on us. My girls, they don't give up. We've been fighting."
Eldon's fight started to manifest in the third inning when Kayleigh Fike was able to drive in a run with a bunt single. The Mustangs cut the gap to a single run in the fourth on a Madison VanHooser RBI double, but no other runs could safely cross the plate.
Eldon left seven runners on base from the third inning on and two potential runs were denied on slides at the plate. The first came in the third inning when Fike was tagged out by the catcher as she barreled towards home while VanHooser was caught on a bloop single in the sixth after a solid dart from the center fielder arrived accurately and on time for the tie-preventing tag.
"She had to make a perfect scoop and throw to the plate and hats off to her, she did," Purnell said of the Russellville center fielder. "She came up and fielded it clean, made a hard and strong throw to the plate right to the chest and they got got the tag down in time.
"Things like that are going to happen to us. We like to try to stay aggressive and if you put pressure on them, they are bound to make a mistake. Tonight, it just did not fall our way."
It was not the ending VanHooser, Fike or Riley Wall were hoping for on their special night, but Purnell said each senior stepped up for the team.
"She (VanHooser) was solid in the circle and solid offensively at bat," the coach noted. "Kayleigh had a decent night at the plate and was rock solid in the outfield. Riley got in a little late and made a couple of plays in the outfield for us and made a couple of strong throws to keep runners out of scoring position. All three stepped up and did what they were supposed to."
Fike and VanHooser are 4-year veterans in the program and Wall contributed three years of her time and effort as well.
"All three have set a foundation for the girls behind them. Madison and Kayleigh are girls I want the younger ones to look to and see how they go about things," Purnell said. "Their work ethic in general and how they are able to communicate with each other in a positive manner, getting their point across without having to be too harsh. More comforting, but yet still getting the point there."
Up next for Eldon is the conference finale against Boonville on Thursday at 5 p.m. Purnell said his team is right there in terms of adding more wins to the resume. It simply takes execution on the offensive end and eliminating mistakes on the defensive end.
"Other than that, if these girls keep playing like they are we are going to be in every game. We have two games left before districts and we know our district is loaded so we are going to have to come out and be ready to go like we did last year," the coach said of the road ahead. "We stepped in there as the underdog and we hope to give everyone as much as they can handle."
Stats will be added as they become available