It didn't take long for the Holton softball program to jump out to a lead in Thursday's Division 4 state semifinal.
The Red Devils would plate a run in the top of the first inning on a two-out RBI single from senior pitcher Kylie Gould.
From there, Holton would tack on four more runs in the top half of the second on a wild pitch, RBI single from Gianna Reed and a two-RBI single from Ryann Robins with two outs in the inning.
Red Devils get 4 in the 2nd— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) June 18, 2021
Kennedy Greene singled and scored from 2nd on a wild pitch and an interference call.
Gianna Reed had an RBI single and Ryann Robins had a 2-run single.
Holton 5, Rudyard 1 - End of 2 pic.twitter.com/NmXptjmnZ7
And the offense wouldn't stop there, scoring one run in each of the third and fourth innings on RBIs from junior Alanna Cragg and Robins on her third RBI of the day.
And Gould was working in the circle for Holton, allowing just one run through over four innings of work.
However, in the bottom of the fifth, with a 7-1 lead, Rudyard's Paige Postma would hit a three-run home run to straight away center to cut the Holton lead to just three.
Kirk Younts's team would respond in their half of the sixth after a triple from senior Madison Bosset, who score just a few pitches later on a passed ball to extend the lead to 8-4.
The Bulldogs' offense would apply more pressure on Gould in the bottom of the sixth, plating one run but stranding two in scoring position on a strikeout to end the inning, keeping it a three-run Red Devil lead.
Madison Bosset triples and scores in the top of the 6th, Rudyard gets 1 in the bottom half— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) June 18, 2021
Holton 8, Rudyard 4 - end of 6 innings pic.twitter.com/qw0VhDNr1L
In the top of the seventh, the Red Devils would go down one, two, three, keeping it an 8-5 lead going into the bottom of the inning.
The Bulldogs would make things interesting in the bottom of the seventh with the first two hitters reaching base on a walk and infield single.
Gould would respond with a strikeout and a pop fly to centerfield before a Rudyard RBI single to bring the go-ahead run to the plate and make it a two-run game.
In the next at bat, the Bulldogs would get another RBI single to cut the deficit to just one, with the tying run at second base.
The crowd would rise to its feet after a RBI double to right field would tie the game at eight, putting the winning run at third base with two outs in the inning.
With all of the drama on the line, Madison Bosset would make a game-saving diving catch in centerfield to give Holton another chance, sending the game to extra innings.
Rudyard gets 3 in the bottom of the 7th to send the game to extra innings— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) June 18, 2021
Holton 8, Rudyard 8 - end of 7 pic.twitter.com/XDHZirkRRf
Holton's Abigail Fowler and Bossett would each get on base on singles in the top of the eighth inning and would both end up in scoring position with one out.
After a walk loaded the bases, the Red Devils would ground out out into a force play at home plate before a strikeout would end the threat, leaving the game tied.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Bulldogs would strand a runner on second after Gould would record a strikeout to end the inning, keeping it tied at eight.
The Holton offense would go down one, two, three in the top of the ninth inning, bringing Rudyard to the plate with a chance to win it.
In the bottom of the ninth, Bulldog senior Morgan Bickel would hit a fly ball deep to right field, which cleared the fence for the walk-off home run, sending Rudyard to the state finals, 9-8.
"Hats off to them, they hit the ball, they did good, it was a tight game," said Holton head coach Kirk Yonts. "They're a good team and they battled; we did too."
The Red Devils led the game 7-1 early on, and a mercy wasn't out of the question until the Bulldog comeback.
"We had some chances to score and we didn't, but give them credit; they battled their way back. Their coach thought they were going to get mercied after it was 7-1, but they just beat us today," Yonts added.
Depsite the loss, it was a dream come true for Gould and the seniors.
"I've been playing with these girls since 10u, and we didn't win a game then," Gould chuckled. "This is our dream to get here, and it was incredible to play with all of these girls."
The Red Devils finish the season at 36-6 overall.
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