By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
Clutch hitting pulled Washington High School to a home softball doubleheader sweep Monday over visiting Southeast Conference foe Fairfield.
The Demons scored in the bottom of ninth inning of the first game for a 2-1 victory and got a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the second game 3-2.
?It was huge to win the first game,? Washington head coach Ben Obermann said. ?Anytime we go nine innings and both pitchers are battling, it?s great to get that win. (Allison) Rebling did a great job for them and Molly (Sparks) pitched her best game of the year for us. She was outstanding. What a performance.?
Neither team could score during the course of the first seven innings. Fairfield scored in the top of the eighth but Washington answered when Alexa Mitchell scored on Kaitlyn Mitchell?s groundout to send the game into another inning.
?To give up a run in the top of the eighth and come back with one, it was huge,? Obermann said. ?Everything was working for us. We put all three phases together. We had clutch hitting, great pitching a great defense. That?s what you have to do.?
Halle Leyden came through in the bottom of the ninth for Washington a bases-loaded, one-out single to end the game.
?Halle really battled,? Obermann said. ?She?s a clutch performer. She?s done it for us before. She went up there ready to hit it and smacked that hard chopper up the middle. She is not afraid to play in a big situation. But really, it was great efforts all the way around and I couldn?t be more proud of them. We just talked about going to pitch by pitch and winning the at-bat. Give the girls a lot of credit, they are fighters. That?s all you can ask for as a coach.?
Sparks didn?t give up a hit until the sixth inning, then struck out the next batter. She finished with seven strikeouts, two walks and five hits allowed.
Washington jumped on top with runs in each of the first two innings of the second game but Fairfield answered with a run in the fourth and another in the fifth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
?If I knew how much effect the first game had on the second game, I?d have people call me up for psychological analysis,? Fairfied coach Bob Bradfield said. ?When you lose a close one like that, the first game, you?re going to be a little bit down. We got some momentum in the second game when we scored. That was a positive. We just couldn?t carry it on. Instead of scoring one, we should?ve scored two but we didn?t.?
?When you go nine innings, it kind of deflates you when you don?t win that first game if it goes extra like that,? Obermann said. ?We came out of the gates strong early in the second game.?
?Our hitting was off but you have to give Washington credit,? Bradfield said. ?They played very well. The left side of their infield make some plays. They made a lot of tough plays. Some of those short hops and between hops you think are going to get through, but they didn?t.?
While Bradfield was impressed with the Washington defense, he was disappointed in his own.
?We just made a couple mistakes and they didn?t. Neither team set the world on fire with their hitting. They did not make any critical errors on defense and we did.?
Morgan Brinning led off Washington?s sixth inning with a single and advanced to third on an error, then dashed home on Haylee Wilson?s hard-hit sacrifice fly to center field.
?Haley Wilson stepped up for us,? Obermann said. ?She had been struggling a little bit so that was great to see. That was huge. If that shot was an inch or two either way, it?s a double for her. Morgan checked up and got that run we needed. I can?t draw it up any better than that.?
Fairfield is 10-15 overall and 6-4 in the conference.
?I think Fairfield has the two best pitchers that we face in the conference, especially when you look at their stats,? Obermann said of Rebling and Ashtyn Drish, who tossed the second game. ?To get two wins on the night is huge.?
Washington improves its league mark to 6-4 and is 9-17 overall.
The Demons host Mid-Prairie Wednesday.