It was the kind of heroic story one might expect from the sister of America’s pastime: One at-bat, one swing, and one chance to keep the comeback alive.
Over the span of a single pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning, Rams softball first baseman Christine Thomsen became the heroine the team was looking for. With one out, a runner on first base and her team down by two runs, Thomsen hooked a line shot off Northern Colorado starting pitcher Kelli Henderson over the right field wall, sending the teams into an 8-8 tie and extra innings.
The Rams (19-20, 2-3 MWC) would take two more innings to put the game away, with a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out triple from junior Allison Majam that plated two runs and sealed the victory, 10-9. For head coach Mary Yori, the win over in-state rival UNC (16-23) was much needed.
“We always have really, really hard battles with UNC. They come over here and they want to win and they play hard. Our kids have to fight hard and that was a great victory for us,” Yori said.
The game was a non-con in the middle of the conference season, but that didn’t distract the team or leave the players with any less motivation. Majam, who started the game, left in the seventh as part of a routine substitution and returned in the ninth for the game-winning hit, said that the scheduling wasn’t a distraction because of the importance of the rivalry.
“Because they’re such a big in-state rival I think it’s a really good opportunity for us. It really brings out the fire in us because they really want to beat us so we really want to show them that we’re the better school in this state,” Majam said.
Majam and Thomsen were hitting beach balls all day at the plate, going a combined 6-9 with five RBIs and five runs scored. As a team, the Rams were 13-36, scorching a .361 average.
“They really swung the bats well today,” Yori said of Majam and Thomsen. “Our kids are capable, and they really got it going. That was really nice to see today . it’s a confidence builder. We needed to do that — we needed to put ten runs together. We hadn’t done that in a while.”
If mighty Casey wasn’t at the plate for the Rams yesterday, he was most certainly in the circle. The team’s two standout freshmen pitchers Kelli Eubanks and Dani Chaplin got shelled in their combined five and a third innings pitched. The normally dynamic duo gave up nine hits and eight runs (five earned) before getting the collective hook from coach Yori.
The Rams did find an arm to stem the tide of UNC runs in the fifth inning. Senior Kim Klabough pitched the final three and two-thirds innings, allowing just one run (unearned) and two hits with two strikeouts. Coach Yori was elated with her senior’s performance.
“The two freshmen really got in trouble early. They just didn’t have their stuff,” Yori said. “That was a huge pick-us-up from Kim Klabough, our senior. She stepped up and pitched the last four innings and did an outstanding job. That was her best four innings she’s thrown in a really long time. That was really nice to see.”
Klabough picked up the win for her efforts, and moves to 5-1 on the season.
This Saturday the Rams will host conference foe New Mexico at 1 p.m. in the first of two games this weekend.
Sports editor Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.