Senior Natalie Bates pounded out six hits in 11 official trips to the plate this past Saturday during the 16th Annual Tuscola Invite but none were bigger than her final one. The senior short stop ended a nine-inning marathon in the Championship game this past Saturday with a two-RBI double scoring both Ashton Smith and Claire Ring to deliver the 3-2 victory.
Tuscola’s Kaitlyn Reifsteck joined with Casey’s Claire Moulding to throw up 14 zero’s on the board as the two squads stayed scoreless during regulation before placing a runner on second in the eighth, instituting the international tie breaker. Reifsteck, who posted a pair of victories in the tourney, gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out 17 from Casey. She fanned two in each of the final two frames to erase potential runs, giving the Warriors a chance in the bottom half. Jessie Martin led the way at the plate for Tuscola adding two hits to the box score.
Bates was the first to stand on second with no outs in the tiebreaker. She moved to third on a bunt by Kendyl Ring and scored sac fly by Jackie Watson to knot it at one. Smith then was the one on second in the ninth. C. Ring moved her to third with a single to right. Keri Pierce and Taylor Musgrave reached on fielders’ choices as Casey loaded the bases in hopes of force outs, but Bates had other plans, driving a ball to the fence in right field on the third pitch of her at bat to set off the fireworks.
Tuscola reached the title tilt with a pair of victories in the morning in pool play. Reifsteck collected her first win of the day in a 8-1 victory over Waltonville. The senior gave up one run on four hits and no walks in a nine-strikeout win. Smith added a save to her stats working two frames to fan three and allow none to reach.
The combination of Bates and Kendyl Ring accounted for five of the Warriors’ runs. The duo were a combined 5 for 5 with five runs scored and three stolen bases. Tuscola put four on the board in the first, one in the third, and three in the fourth to secure the win. Jessie Martin was big at the plate also driving in a pair with a triple.
Smith got the ball in the second pool play game versus Oakwood. The senior gave up two runs on five hits, including a solo homerun to the first batter of the game, while walking two and striking out three. Tuscola answered with a pair in the bottom of the first and one in the second then blew it open late scoring three in the fourth and five in the fifth to post an 11-2 victory earning a spot in the championship.
The full story can be found in the April 17, 2019 edition of The Tuscola Journal.