FREDERICKTOWN — For 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday, the Fredericktown Freddies were playing like champions. Pitcher Danielle Goeppinger and the Fredericktown defense hadn’t allowed a base runner, and the Northridge Vikings didn’t have an answer.
Then it happened.
A hard hit ball by Kimber Hazlett got by center fielder Mackenzie Perkins and rolled all the way to the fence. Hazlett, displaying good speed, rounded the bases and beat the throw home for an inside-the-park home run. Though they scored eight more times in the final three innings, that was all the Vikings needed to beat the Freddies, 9-0.
That single hit seemed to unravel all of the momentum Fredericktown (4-9, 2-5 Mid-Buckeye Conference) had, and the defense broke down in the final three innings, accounting for six errors.
“We were in this game until that play, and then you could almost see the heads start to sink,” said Fredericktown coach Jeff Keener. “It’s tough. If things don’t go well for us, then we’re done. I keep telling them, ‘You’ve got to play all seven.’”
Northridge (15-1, 6-1 MBC) put up a single run in the fifth on a walk to Cassie Davison, who advanced on a passed ball and scored on a throwing error. The real damage was done, however, in the sixth inning when Northridge strung together a couple of hits and got a hit batter to go along with three Freddie errors. The last error scored Davison to make it a 6-0 game.
Not done yet, the Vikings worked some more of their magic in the seventh inning, once again combining a couple of hits with a walk and two more Fredericktown errors. Sarah Heimann had an RBI single to cap the scoring in the 9-0 win.
Fredericktown, playing without leading hitter Taylor Keener, had its chances stranding seven base runners in the game. The Freddies left base runners on in each of the first four innings, never being able to get the timely hit they needed to drive in the runs. Ciera Bennett recorded the only hit for Fredericktown — a single in the second inning.
“We are so discouraged and in a rut as far as hitting goes, I don’t think that we believe in ourselves at all,” coach Keener said. “(Hazlett) is an above average pitcher, and she is good. She hits her spots; she throws some different speeds. But our mentality is not good. When you can’t hit, you can’t win. When you score zero runs, you’ve got to be flawless and perfect in every other aspect of the game, and if that doesn’t happen, you are in trouble.
“Runners in scoring position have killed us all year. We can get runners on and get them over, but we cannot get them in.”
With momentum, Hazlett set the side down in order in two of the last three innings to preserve the victory for the Vikings. She finished allowing just one hit, three walks, one hit batsman and striking out 10 in seven innings.
Goeppinger pitched nearly as well if not for her teams errors. She gave up nine runs on five hits, but only two runs were earned. She walked two and hit one batter while striking out four.
For the Freddies, the game was a learning experience as much as anything else. There is little time to practice at this point in the season, so they must atone for their mistakes in the next game, which happens to be a make-up game tonight at home against Johnstown.
“We’re going to work hard in pregame,” said coach Keener. “We have to work on our mindset and be ready to play. There is no time to waste. We’ve got to come back because we’ve got Johnstown coming in. I think the mental part — if we can get our heads screwed on and keep it screwed on, play a full seven innings — let’s play it out and see what happens.”