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Late North Miami rally falls short against Oak Hill

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Ace: North Miami pitcher Ashley Lackman threw a no-hitter Monday against Caston but was under far more duress against Oak Hill Tuesday evening. Lackman gave up six runs on nine hits, walking two while striking out seven in the Warriors’ 6-5 loss to the Golden Eagles.
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CAMP OUT: North Miami freshman Jayden Hetzner settles underneath a fly ball during Tuesday night’s non-conference softball game against Oak Hill. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 6-1 lead and though the Warriors rallied, they ultimately fell short in a 6-5 loss.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

North Miami opened the 2019 softball season with a swift win over Caston Monday but faced a major step up in competition Tuesday with Oak Hill visiting.

Falling behind 6-1, the Warriors rallied in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four times, but could not find another run as the Golden Eagles left with a 6-5 win.

North Miami head coach Rob Cooley said the squad was slow to make adjustments at the plate and Oak Hill made their own adjustments at the right time.

“We tried to force some hits early on off of (Bayli) Toy,” Cooley said. “We thought we would see some adjustments and the girls would put the ball in play hard.

“We didn’t get that as much as we wanted and when we started to, (Oak Hill) changed pitchers on us. We struggled with (Julianne Gosnell) in the fifth inning but we started to get on her and put the ball in play.

“We felt good where we were in our batting lineup after the sixth but we weren’t able to finish the game,” Cooley added.

After Toy and Ashley Lackman fired out two scoreless innings to start, Oak Hill got the runs flowing in the third inning, starting with a leadoff walk by Kaleigh Hollars.

Coleena Selleck and Abby Shaw both reached to load the bases where Janessa Hasty hit a single that drove in two runs.

Kaela Robey dropped a bunt that brought in a third run, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead.

“(Oak Hill) got a couple of liners but used small ball to get a few extra runners and a few extra bases on us,” Cooley noted on the scoring burst.

North Miami was able to pull one back in the bottom half of the inning after Bailey Keim and Marlie Halterman drew walks, both moving up a base on a passed ball.

Hannah Hall singled to bring in one run but Halterman was left stranded at third after a pair of infield fly balls.

Robey would score in the fifth after drawing a walk, stealing second and coming home on an Ashlynn Transier single to push the lead back to three at 4-1.

Ella Ridgeway led off the sixth with a single for the Golden Eagles before two quick outs seemed to put a damper on the inning.

Selleck singled and both moved up on a wild pitch, allowing Shaw to plate both runners with a single for a 6-1 lead.

The runs would be crucial as the Warriors made their move in the bottom half of the inning.

Gosnell, in the circle starting in the fifth in relief of Toy, issued a walk to Maryann Freeman to start the inning while a pair of fielder’s choice plays off the bats of Taylor Tinney and Lackman led to no outs and bases loaded.

Allie Miller drew a walk to force a run in before Gosnell got a strikeout and a fielder’s choice that got the out at first at the cost of a run.

Bailey Keim provided the big hit, notching a single that drove in two runs and cut the lead to one at 6-5.

Cooley said a more patient approach in the inning paid off.

“The girls started taking some pitches which meant they were seeing the ball come out of (Gosnell’s) hand well,” Cooley said. “The girls started to slowly make adjustments.

“After the fifth inning, we told the girls we didn’t need all five runs in one inning and the girls started to put the ball in play more.”

Keim would get to second but a groundout ended the inning and preserved the Oak Hill lead.

Gosnell followed with a clean seventh inning to ensure the Golden Eagles walked out with a hard-fought win.

After facing 2A No. 7 Northwestern Wednesday, North Miami takes on one of its biggest challenges of the season, traveling to A No. 5 Morgan Township to face the Cherokees and defending state champions A No. 1 Pioneer.

Cooley said the day was not only important to get a look at the Panthers but to also get multiple girls on the field.

“We’re hoping, having both games, we’ll see some of our younger girls in different situations and see how they respond,” Cooley said. “We want to get a good feel for what Pioneer is doing with their defense.

“We also want to see if we can put them in positions where we can force errors on them while building some depth throughout the day.”