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Oak Hill softball holds off late North Miami rally for win

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EAGLES: Oak Hill's Julianne Gosnell delivers a pitch in the Golden Eagles' 6-5 win at North Miami on Tuesday.
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OUT: Oak Hill first baseman Ashlyn Transier stretches to retire a North Miami batter during the Eagles' 6-5 win on Tuesday.
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SWIPE: Oak Hill's Kaela Robey rises to her feet after stealing second in the Eagles' 6-5 win at North Miami on Tuesday.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

DENVER – After a split to open the season, Oak Hill traveled to North Miami looking to move back to over .500 Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles lost a heartbreaker the year before to the Warriors at home 9-8 in nine innings and nearly saw the hosts send another game into extra innings, holding off a big sixth inning rally to take home a 6-5 win.

Oak Hill head coach Ben Johnson said the girls got rolling by taking what North Miami was willing to give them at the plate.

“We started playing our short game and it really came in,” Johnson said. “(Ashley Lackman) was dealing early and while we got some solid contact, she was able to get out of the first inning with some strikeouts.

“A lot of what we did well was our short game mixed in with some timely singles.”

After 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.

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.

Johnson said starter Bayli Toy deftly moved through the hosts’ lineup throughout her four innings.

“Bayli was outstanding today,” Johnson noted. “She loves her warm weather and looked great, giving up only one run on three hits.”

Robey would score in the fifth after drawing a walk, stealing second and coming home on an Ashlyn 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 according to Johnson as the Warriors made their move in the bottom half of the inning.

“Abby had a clutch two-out single for us,” Johnson said. “We needed those runs because no matter how far they’re down, North Miami was going to make a comeback.

“They have two awesome coaches (Rob Cooley and Mike Meeks). They’re an outstanding program and we told the girls they would keep coming back as long as they had an at-bat.”

Julianne 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.

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

“We were trying to make a big play and we told the girls when we’re up four or five runs, we just need to get an out,” Johnson said about the late rally. “JuJu (Gosnell) did outstanding giving up the kind of contact we wanted but we tried to force big plays. We huddled up and I asked all the infielders where their play was. We didn’t care about the runs; we cared about the outs.

“As long as they talked about it when the ball was put in play we were good and once we did that, we got out of the inning,” Johnson added.

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

Oak Hill returns to action Thursday when the team hosts Maconaquah at 5 p.m. with Johnson knowing the upcoming slate was going to be a test for the girls.

“We’re hoping to practice Wednesday without a lot of rain,” Johnson said. “We’ve got Maconaquah and Eastern, then we go to 2A No. 5 Tipton for a doubleheader Saturday.

“Maconaquah about got us last year and we realized that when we’re down 1-0 midway through the game. I expect our girls to come out ready to go because they’re a good team with a good coach, good pitching and great fielding, which will keep you in every ball game.”