Walk-off Warriors

Apr. 22, 2014 @ 11:33 PM

With the game tied at 3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, J.F. Webb sent a freshman to bat that had been struggling at the plate prior to Tuesday’s game.

Anna Freuler broke out of that slump with hits in two of her three previous at-bats against Cedar Ridge and continued the improvement with her final swing. The Warrior freshman, playing softball this season for the first time in three years, drove in classmate Hannah Watson on a grounder up the middle to give Webb a 4-3 come-from-behind win.

“It’s a team effort,” said Freuler, an outfielder. “You can’t just put it on one person.”

That’s the attitude Webb head coach CeCe Duke has tried to instill in her team.

Freuler and Watson are among five freshmen in Webb’s starting lineup.

Another rookie, Hailee Cutts, got the win Tuesday after allowing three hits and striking out seven.

“They’re team players,” Duke said of the freshmen. “That’s what I stressed from day one. You have to be a team player and the freshmen have stepped up.”

Watson, hitting in the bottom of the order, got her first hit of the evening with one out in the seventh before Ellen Blevins got on with a single, setting up Freuler’s at-bat.

Freuler finished 3-for-4 and Cutts, Brooke Wheeler, Josie Salisbury, and Julia Pienkosz each added hits for Webb, which earned its fifth 3-A Big Eight Conference win.

The Warriors rallied from a 3-0 deficit, completing the comeback in the fourth inning on Pienkosz’ two-run single that a diving Cedar Ridge shortstop couldn’t snag in left field.

With the bases loaded, Salisbury knocked in Freuler on a hot shot back to the mound to score the Warriors’ first run.

Duke said another victory should put the Warriors in prime position for a state playoffs berth.

A pitcher who doesn’t play like a freshman is a big reason why. Cutts, a captain, retired nine consecutive batters after allowing three runs in the opening frame.

“When the score is 3-0, I try to picture it as 0-0 and try to get everybody to stay up,” said Cutts, who struck out the side in the second inning and got out of a sixth-inning jam with runners on second and third by successfully fielding two grounders back to the mound.

“I’ve been the type forever to pick my team up and never let anything try to affect how they play,” she said. “I try to pick them up because I know when I get down, I do worse. So I try to keep them pumped up so everybody will stay together and play together.”

Webb returns to the diamond Thursday in Oxford against Cardinal Gibbons.

Duke expects the win to give her previously struggling team a lift.

“I told them the games we have coming up are going to be our biggest games,” said Duke. “I think this right here is going to get them all pumped up and ready to play.”

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.