Helias holds off Battle, 7-6

In prep softball contest

Riley Bond of Helias squares up to bunt during the bottom half of the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against Battle at Duensing Field.

Riley Bond of Helias squares up to bunt during the bottom half of the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against Battle at Duensing Field. Photo by Kris Wilson.

In its season opener, the Helias softball team fell victim to a late-game rally and lost.

So when the Battle Lady Spartans started to mount another such comeback in the Lady Crusaders’ home opener, things didn’t appear to be trending so well.

But Helias was able to right the ship and held on for a 7-6 victory Tuesday night at Duensing Field.

“We pulled it out and I was proud of them,” Helias coach Dan Campbell said of the Lady Crusaders. “But it got a little touchy for us there in the seventh.”

While things never seemed firmly in hand, the Lady Crusaders did lead almost the entire contest. And heading to the top of the seventh, they were leading 7-2.

The Lady Spartans got four runs on just two hits and three errors — including two on one play — and had the tying run at second with two outs. But the defense was able to make one last play, as Helias pitcher Lindsey Steinbeck induced a ground ball for the final out.

“For the most part, I thought we made the plays until the seventh,” Campbell said. “You just had the feeling that there wasn’t going to be a safe lead tonight.”

Battle scored the game’s first run in the top of the first, but Helias was able to reclaim the momentum with three runs in the bottom of the frame, with the first coming on a particularly pretty play.

Paige Bange, who had drawn a one-out walk, went to second when Kaylie LeCuru was hit by a pitch. One out later, Jordyn Nappier hit a bouncer off the Battle pitcher that ricocheted between first and second. Bange got a great jump and sprinted all the way home, beating the throw to the plate with a great slide.

“She made a great slide,” Campbell said. “Just a great, great slide.”

LeCuru went to third on the play and later scored on a wild pitch, while Nappier later scored on a bunt single by Julie Harris.

“They got one in the first and we answered, so that’s good,” Campbell said.

Helias made it 4-1 in the fifth. Kaysie Scheuler led off with a bunt single and went to second when Nappier reached on an error. Peyton Hall then ripped a single to left and when it went through the legs of the left fielder, Scheuler came in to score.

Still, through five innings the Lady Crusaders had scored four runs and stranded eight baserunners.

“We hit some balls hard, including a couple balls right at the center fielder,” Campbell said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, we’re missing some opportunities here, it’s going to bite us.’ I just didn’t feel comfortable with how Battle was hitting the ball.”

The Lady Crusaders got some breathing room with three in the bottom of the sixth, with the big blow a two-out, two-run single by Peyton Hall.

“That was the hit of the game,” Campbell said. “That broke it open and gave us a little breathing room.”

Harris followed Hall with another RBI bunt single.

“She’s so dang fast,” Campbell said. “It’s, ‘Put it on the ground and go, Julie.’”

That last run would become even more important after the adventure in the top of the seventh. But Helias was able to get through it and Steinbeck, a freshman, picked up her first varsity win. She scattered eight hits in the complete-game effort while striking out one, and four of the six runs were earned.

“She battled and got her first win, so that’s good,” Campbell said. “And we’ve got that win under our belt so maybe now we can relax a little bit going forward.”

Helias (1-1) returns to action with games Friday and Saturday at Webb City.

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