Sometimes a batter keeps swinging and the hits don’t come. The ball instead falls into the glove of an outfielder or smacks into the mitt of the catcher as the hitter swings and misses on strike three.
Those are the moments that rattle confidence and leave players shaking their heads as they make the long walk back to the dugout.
For five innings on a night in late March in Gulf Breeze, Navarre’s softball team seemed destined for another loss in what has been a difficult season, trailing the rival Dolphins 5-1 and managing only one hit along the way.
One moment can change everything. It can turn helplessness into hope and the Raiders seemingly had a ton of it after Samantha Combs smashed the ball over the outfield fence to lead off the sixth inning.
Navarre wasn’t going to let its surge of new-found confidence disappear. Callie Anderson followed with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Bowling to trim the Gulf Breeze lead to 5-3.
Nathalie Holbrook tied the game a few moments later, her base hit through the infield driving in a pair of runs to tie the game at 5-5.
Gulf Breeze tried to steal the momentum back. The Dolphins got two runs on thanks to a couple of errors but the Raiders turned a crucial double play to end the threat.
The Raiders and Dolphins went into the seventh with five runs apiece. Anderson broke that tie with her third hit, driving in Madison Faulkner for the winning run. Faulkner led off the inning with her only hit of the game. Anderson then scored on an error for a 7-5 advantage.
The Dolphins still had their half of the seventh to make something happen and one parent mentioned the stress that comes with watching these types of games, the type where biting nails or leaning on the edge of a seat is a natural reaction.
Gulf Breeze did manage one hit but Hanna Stapleton preserved the 7-5 victory when she struck out the final batter she faced.
Read more in the April 7 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.