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Softball: It was oh so close
North’s Haley Schanks nearly has perfect game
North 6 - East Ridge 1
Prior to the Section 4AAA softball game with East Ridge, North High pitcher Haley Schanks said, “I’m excited. I hope we have a good game.”
Schanks had no idea how “good” a game she was going to have. Heading into the top of the seventh inning, Schanks was on the brink of pitching a perfect gem. The first Raptor batter, Makaela Egan, looped a line shot toward left field.
North shortstop Kallie Stepaniak moved to her right and toward the left-field hole. She leaped up and made a backhand catch of the ball that would have been a sure hit. One out!
The next East Ridge hitter flew out to center field. Two outs!
Now Schanks was one out away from the perfect game. Christine Pickett worked the count to three-two. She fouled a pitch off and then took ball four high.
The perfect game was over. There had been 26 batters and 26 outs, but now the 27th batter had reached first base.
At that point, North coach Cliff Charpentier went to the mound. “She’s a great kid,” Charpentier said. “She knew she had a perfect game, and she was disappointed. I told her that I was disappointed as well. But not to feel too bad; this is a team game. I said, ‘Keep throwing and now let’s get the win.’
“She did that. She was brilliant on the mound. Both me and (North assistant coach Tom) Nemo came from East Ridge. We know them well. They are a very good team. They beat us twice last year in the sections. They knocked us out. This year was our turn.”
Charpentier then pointed to North’s first and second hitters in the lineup.
“Lily Langevin and Stepaniak both went three-for-four at the plate. They are swinging the bat really well for us. Now we have to keep it up.”
At the point that East Ridge stopped the perfect performance by Schanks, North had built a 6-0 margin. The Raptors went on to pick up two hits and scored a run. But the game ended when Schanks’ recorded her 10th strikeout in the contest.
The Polars scored two runs in the first. Langevin led off with a bunt single, and Stepaniak followed with a bunt and beat the throw to first. Schanks then singled and Langevin came home.
With Georgie Robasse in as a courtesy runner for Schanks, Erin Jungmann banged a single into left field, and Robasse crossed home with what turned out to be the game-winner.
In the bottom of the second North picked up two more tallies. Mady Strom was safe on an infield hit. Kayla Koemptgen slammed a double to left center.
With runners on third and second, Langevin slapped a single to center to score Strom. On the play Koemptgen was waved around third, but a throw to the plate cut her down. Stepaniak then followed with a hit to left and Langevin came in on a throwing error when the ball was thrown into the Raptors’ bench.
In the fourth Strom banged a one-out hit. Koemptgen sacrificed her to second and Stepaniak banged a single to left to plate Strom.
In the bottom of the fifth Jungmann had a “no-doubt” hit that cleared the left-field fence for a 228-foot “tater” that put the sixth run on the board for the Polars.
Next up, North - the No. 1 seed - will resume its quest for a trip to the state softball tournament when it faces Stillwater (6th seed) in a 4:30 p.m. scheduled contest May 28 at the McKnight Fields complex.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at email@example.com.