Hacker's walk-off homer provides solace as Lone Grove softball holds off Plainview
LONE GROVE — In times of tragedy and loss, sometimes a single swing of the bat is the best medicine for those grieving.
The Lone Grove High School softball team and the rest of the community have battled the pain of losing two young men, but Lilly Hacker gave the Lady Horns some solace Tuesday with a walk-off homer for a 3-2 victory over Plainview in extra innings.
“I was out there preparing myself mentally, ‘I have to come up big and win this game,’” Hacker said. “After the first pitch, I was like, ‘Don’t lose, don’t lose.' I just got in the box and (thought), ‘Be with me Cole (Evans), be with me Jaetyn (Cameron).’ The next pitch was perfect, and I just swung. It was all them. Just being there for my team was what I needed to do and back up Emma (Wilson). That was the most important thing to me.”
And Hacker’s hit came at the perfect time, as there was no telling if the game would have continued past the eighth inning. Hacker made sure it didn’t and teammate Chloe Yeatts, who also homered earlier in the game, knew the importance of the victory.
“It’s pretty special, especially since all the stuff we’ve been going through,” Yeatts said. “To know we could pull out this game on our home field. It meant a lot.”
That feeling was shared by every Lady Horn who burst out of the dugout to celebrate with Hacker as she made the trot to home plate. It was a storybook ending to Lone Grove’s home opener, and a number of Lady Horns made significant contributions.
Wilson was one of those, as the junior struck out five in a complete-game effort to pick up the win.
“Emma Wilson pitched a great game,” said Lone Grove head coach Dennis Furr. “That’s the best game she’s thrown all year. … She was really dominant today. That seventh inning was the only time Plainview got a runner to second base. … It was a pretty good start for her. She really gutted it out and showed some toughness those last two innings to get those last five outs after they tied it up.”
And while the Lady Horns were victorious, Plainview also showed its grit by scratching across a pair of runs in the seventh to force extra innings.
Riley Grant started the rally with a single and Brooklyn Charnock followed with a base knock that set up Izzy Norton’s sacrifice bunt to put the duo in scoring position. Brooklyn Stricker stepped up to the plate and drove in Grant, while Samara Morgan did the same to tie the game.
“That’s the reason why we have those three big, bold words on the back of our shirts — 'Fight, Finish and Faith,'” said Lady Indians head coach Brandon Ybarra. “We’re always going to fight, we’re going to finish and we’re always going to keep the faith that we can play with anybody and stay in the game. Especially when the going gets tough, that’s when it really shines. Just like today.”
Unfortunately for Plainview, the late rally didn’t result in a win and Ybarra took the blame for the loss. The first-year skipper said he called the wrong pitch, but he also admitted that a different pitch may not have changed the outcome.
Nevertheless, it was tough to overlook Grant’s solid performance in the circle. The senior tallied seven strikeouts and allowed just one earned run in five innings of work.
“Riley definitely had a great outing,” Ybarra said. “She came out and showed her presence, and that’s what we wanted. ... She definitely came out and showed what a senior leader should do in the circle and made a presence. Hopefully that will make a presence in the next game when we play them again.”