Town Crier Sports Staff
Youth has carried Manila's softball team for most of this season. The Lady Lions start five freshman who have helped lead Manila to their first ever district championship and a berth in the regional tournament. But it was Manila's lone senior, Katie Veach, who came up with the biggest hit of the day, propelling the Lady Lions to a thrilling 8-7 victory over Bergman Saturday afternoon at Harrison, insuring Manila a trip to this weekend's state tournament at Sherwood.
Manila held a 7-3 lead after four innings and looked to be in control before the Lady Panthers rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the score at 7-7. Both teams threatened over the next two innings, but neither could come up with the go-ahead run until Manila pushed across the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.
Veach led off the inning with a clean single to centerfield to start the winning rally. Freshman Jonna Dodd hit a pop-up on the infield, but the ball popped out of the Bergman second baseman's glove, giving Manila runners at first and second with no-outs. Freshman Brooke Hill drilled a line drive directly to the Bergman shortstop, who fired to second base in an attempt to double off Veach, but the throw sailed into centerfield and Veach raced home with the game winning run to the delight of the Manila faithful.
"Coach Wise (Junior) and I talked about having Katie bunt to lead off the inning," said Manila Coach Toby Doke, "but decided to let her swing away and she came up with a big hit. The rest is history. We didn't catch many breaks today, but we finally got one on the wild throw to centerfield. There were a lot of little breaks in the game today that didn't go our way until the last inning."
"We are young and our girls were a little jittery and nervous, and that showed," continued Doke. "But the good thing is that they did find a way to win. They have gotten themselves to the state tournament and I take my hat off to them. It's another great achievement, which is something these girls have been doing all year long. Now we just have to play for a better seed. We didn't play well today. It was probably the worst game we have played all season. But the bottom line is we are going to the state tournament."
Manila (22-6) led 4-3 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but scored three times to take a
7-3 lead. Freshman Kimberly Wise ripped a two-run single to highlight Manila's three run outburst.
Bergman battled back in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with one out. Tara LaRue and Ashley Long drilled back to back singles to cut the Lady Lion lead to 7-5. Bergman added another run on a Manila error and tied the score when Laci Quinne hit a fielder's choice grounder to tie the score 7-7. Wise got out of the jam by striking out Samantha Williams, leaving the bases loaded.
Wise picked up the win, going seven innings and scattering 11 hits. The righthander struck out six and walked just one while giving up five earned runs.
Wise had a pair of base hits and drove in a game high four runs while stealing five bases. Michele Daniel also picked up a pair hits, drove in a run and scored twice. Jonna Dodd went 2-4 including a double. Heather Dozhier singled, stole three bases and scored twice. Freshman Katie Donner had a single, scored a run and stole a base while Katie Veach, Brooke Hill and freshman Leigha Woody all singled. Woody also stole a pair of bases.
Manila will face Corning Monday afternoon at 5:00 in the regional semi-finals at Harrison and will begin play in the state tournament which runs May 4-10 at Sherwood.