With the game on the line Thursday, Evans head softball coach Colette Cassedy showed her confidence in a freshman.
In the bottom of the sixth with one out and Alexis Schlein on first, Cassedy had Jenna Cliatt sacrifice her to second, bringing up freshman third baseman Brooke Hayes. Hayes’ bloop single brought Schlein home and the Lady Knights went on to a 3-2 win.
“She’s gutsy and doesn’t let too much get to her, that’s unusual for a freshman,” Cassedy said of Hayes.
Lady Knights senior pitcher Natalie Johnson retired Harlem (7-2) in order in the seventh to get the victory as the Lady Knights improved to 6-1.
The game followed a trend since 2010, with the annual meeting being determined by two runs or less.
The Lady Knights struck first in the bottom of the third as Brooke Buck followed two infield singles with a sharp grounder into left field to score Savannah Gabriel and Elyssa Melton.
And with the way Johnson started the game, it appeared two runs would be enough as she had six strikeouts through the first three innings.
But the Lady Bulldogs broke through in the fifth on a single by Christian Mullis, stolen base, then a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Morgan Hobbins. In the sixth, Lindsey Stokes led off with a single, was sacrificed to second and scored on Bailey Sheppard’s double.
Harlem sophomore pitcher Amber Garrett (4-2) nearly matched Johnson, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six. Her lead-off walk to Schlein in the bottom of the sixth set the stage for the Evans rally.
Harlem coach Mike Leverett expected a close game and liked how his team performed.
“We hit the ball hard, but we just hit it right at them,” Leverett said. “We played well and I’m satisfied with the way we played.”