"I was amazed she could even get to that ball," Boyle County coach Heather Oates said. "She got a good jump and did her best to bring that ball down. She just couldn't quite get there. But it was a tremendous effort."
"After about the fifth inning, I knew it was going to come down to who got a good opportunity and took advantage of it," Casey coach Andy Stephens said. "We got lucky."
Part luck, part solid defense
Part of it was luck, part of it was solid defense. While 12 of Casey's outs came via strikeouts, Boyle (8-11, 2-1) struck out just five times. The rest of the outs came from Casey's fielders, whom Stephens says are among the best he's had in his time as Casey's coach.
Casey's biggest defensive play came in the third inning. Boyle's Beth Brown opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Amber Mills walked, and all runners were safe when Delk fielded Joanna Frauenhoffer's bunt and threw it over the head of Lindsay Wilson, who was covering third.
That loaded the bases for C.C. Leffew, who hit the ball to Delk at third. She threw home to Felicia Luttrell for the force on Brown, and Luttrell then threw to Wilson at third to get Mills.
"Our offense just was not on tonight," Oates said. "That's taking nothing away from their defense, because they played really well. But we didn't hit around them enough."
Casey didn't do much hitting at all. Only Laura Wilson and Kelli Patton singled, and four other Casey batters reached base via walk.
Casey reached base just twice in the first four innings, both walks by Lindsay Wilson. But in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings, Casey had its leadoff batter reach base.
In the seventh, Luttrell led off the inning with a walk. She reached third with two outs, but was stranded there when Kayla Buis struck out swinging.
Buis gets 10th win
Buis picked up the win, her 10th of the year, by outlasting Boyle. She is not an overpowering pitcher, instead relying on placement and pitch selection. It took Boyle some time to adjust to the lower velocity of Buis' pitches.
"Part of playing softball is adjusting to the pitchers, to the fielders, and we didn't do that soon enough," Oates said. "That's no excuse."
"Kayla placed the ball pretty well today," Stephens said. "She's done a good job of keeping people off balance this year."
Leffew had two singles for Boyle, and Frauenhoffer had the game's only extra-base hit, a double.
Pennington took the loss, striking out 12 and giving up just two hits.
"It came down to one little play," Stephens said. "We finally got a little luck and we put the ball in play. Any time you put the ball in play, and they have to make plays, good things can happen."