WENDELL — A four-run lead in the final inning would be safe against many high school softball teams. Not Wendell. A 13-run lead in the final inning would be insurmountable for nearly any team. Not Wendell.
The Trojans faced both of those deficits in a home doubleheader against Canyon Conference rival Declo on Tuesday night. Wendell’s results were a pair of losses: 14-10 in eight innings and 20-19 in seven. But that was hard to tell at the end of the second game.
“We’ve played them so many times, and we know that anything’s possible,” Declo coach Kari Osterhout said. “You never let up on Wendell.”
In game one, Declo scored five runs in the second inning to take a 6-1 lead. Wendell cut the deficit to 6-4 and 7-5, but the Hornets scored two in the top of the seventh to seemingly pull away.
The Trojans kept charging. Three hits and three walks led to four runs in the bottom of the seventh. Wendell had a chance to walk off with runners on first and third and two outs, but Destiny Cavitt grounded out to send the game into extra innings.
Wendell left 15 runners on base in the game (Declo left five). One runner was thrown out at home plate to end the second inning. The eighth inning made those stranded runners look extra costly.
Declo scored five runs in the top of the eighth to take a 14-9 lead. Wendell threatened in the bottom half, but reliever Amanda Bott shut the door.
Game two began in similar fashion, with Declo taking a 6-2 lead through an inning and a half. Wendell promptly scored four runs in the bottom ogf the second to tie it up.
The final run of that inning was driven in by Annabelle Callaway, who also tied the game at 2-2 in the first inning with a two-run home run for her second long ball of the day. She now has five home runs this season.
“I told myself to take a breather and take it easy, and I guess it worked today,” she said.
Callaway’s power surge was overshadowed by Maddie Matthews. Declo’s third baseman came up to the plate in the top of the fifth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. She skied an Ali Jacobson pitch just over the left field fence to break the 6-6 tie.
Matthews’ teammates had surrounded home by the time she rounded third base. As she ran down the line, she pointed her index fingers to the sky and jumped on the plate. That triggered a coordinated fall by her teammates as if she had detonated a bomb.
Matthews wasn’t done. With a 13-7 lead in the top of the sixth, Matthews launched a ball over the center field wall. Once again, she and her teammates engaged in a bomb celebration.
“My timing has just been off, and I’ve been really struggling,” Matthews said. I’ve been working really hard at it, and finally it paid off.”
Declo seemed in charge at that point, and it didn’t get any better for Wendell. Going into the bottom of the seventh, Declo led 20-7.
But the Trojans don’t go quietly into the night. They reached base 11 times in the bottom of the seventh and piled up nine hits. Four were doubles. Two were home runs.
“We tell ourselves not to get in the quicksand mentally, and we just pull ourselves out,” Callaway said.
With one out and the score 20-18, Chayanne Barron came to the plate. Cavitt was on second base, but she was caught stealing early in the at-bat. A couple pitches later, Barron hit a solo home run to right field. The next batter, Rylee Dunn, grounded out to end the game.
“I’d be more relieved if we would’ve ended at 20-10,” Osterhout said with a laugh. “We have a pretty good rivalry going.”
Declo finished the regular season with a 3-1 record against Wendell. The 2A teams wrap up the regular season next week and will meet again in the district tournament, which Declo will host.
“It’s kinda hard losing against Declo, but it’s nice to know that we really tried and we don’t give up,” Callaway said.