Story first appeared in the April 21, 2016 edition of The Northwestern Press and was available on thelehighvalleypress.com on April 22, 2016.
While his team was packing up and heading for the bus after its game against Salisbury last week, Northwestern softball head coach Josh Zimmerman was standing back, looking down, and reflecting on what transpired.
The game went exactly as Zimmerman expected, however, the outcome did not.
Salisbury loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless game and knocked a walk-off RBI-single into right field, winning a pivotal Colonial League softball game 1-0 at Salisbury Middle School.
“Salisbury has been really successful so far this year,” Zimmerman said. “I thought in order for us to be successful in this game, it was going to have be like this. I didn’t think it was going to be a slugfest. We needed a few key hits here and there and the team that got those would come out victorious.”
Both Northwestern (3-5 overall, 3-3 Colonial League) and Salisbury amassed only five hits each in the contest. Both teams threatened to score in the seventh, but the Lady Tigers failed to cash in during their half inning.
The ladies looked poised to score the first runs of the game as Jess Badman led off the inning with a single, followed by another single from Ellen Marie Smith. However, the next two batters grounded into fielder’s choices. Northwestern grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Salisbury took advantage of its opportunity in its half of the inning as the Lady Falcons loaded the bases with one out for junior Morgan Goletz. The second baseman slapped a walk-off RBI-single into right field, bringing the lone run across home plate.
“With the way we were pitching and playing defensively, I thought we would dig out of it,” Zimmerman said of the seventh inning. “However, things didn’t bounce our way again today.”
Salisbury pitcher Brooke Rogers shut down the Northwestern offense as she only allowed one runner to advance to third base.
“She did a good job of getting us off balance,” said Zimmerman. “We were lunging out at them a little bit. [I told them] to just stay level, take a good approach, don’t help her out, and try to catch her in a mistake. She is a good pitcher. She doesn’t make very many mistakes and did a good job throughout keeping us off balance.”
The Lady Tigers’ lineup is still off balance a bit as senior infielder Claire O’Dea is out with an injury. Zimmerman confirmed on Thursday that he expects her to return on Monday.
Despite the loss, Zimmerman said he believes his team is “one to contend with” if his girls “believe in themselves,” as he saw the loss to Salisbury as just a tough game, not a sign of what is to come.
“This is why you play the game,” he said. “You don’t play the game to be in blowout games on either end. It was an exciting, good game. It just came down to Salisbury executing in situations and we didn’t execute.”