It’s not easy to win a game when the two teams are familiar with each other.
The Northwest softball team found that out at its home tournament final against Aurora.
The Vikings overcame six errors and a determined Huskies squad during a 6-5 victory Saturday at Veterans Field Softball Complex.
Northwest scored the winning run when pinch hitter Ellie Gonzalez put down a bunt single to score Grace Baasch in the bottom of the sixth. The game ended due to the time limit.
The Vikings had defeated Aurora 9-1 this past Tuesday. But NW coach Jake Ritzdorf said he expected a battle from the Huskies.
“Anytime Northwest faces Aurora in any game, it’s going to be a great game,” Ritzdorf said. “I’m proud of the way the girls competed, grinded and found a way to win. I’m glad we got the last at-bat because they might have won if they had the last at-bat. It was just that kind of game.”
Aurora never quit. The Huskies rallied from two-run deficits twice to tie the game and faced a one-run deficit to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
Aurora coach Ashton Voss said she was proud of how the Huskies competed, especially in the final where they had seven hits.
“Our bats showed up today and that’s something we were struggling with all season long,” she said. “We did make some errors with our defense today but we battled with our bats today. That was big for us.”
After seeing Aurora tie the game at 4-all in the top of the fifth innings, the Vikings pulled ahead after Alicyn O’Neill hit an RBI single to bring home Reba Mader.
But the Huskies came right back. Noel Eckert hit a single to center field but ended up reaching third on the play after Lexy Walton misplayed the ball, which went behind her to the wall. Eckert scored as Taylor Janda hit an RBI sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game up.
Then Ritzdorf brought in Baasch, who scored as a courtesy runner earlier in the game, and she reached on a bunt single. She stole second, then reached third on a Walton sacrifice bunt, setting up Gonzalez’ walk off bunt single.
“We have confidence with whoever we send to the plate and wherever on defense,” Ritzdorf said. “Grace did a great job on that bunt attempt and got to first and Ellie had a squeeze play to end it. That’s always a fun way to end the game.”
Rylee Olsen led the Aurora offense by going 2 for 4 with two RBIs, while Brooklyn Moody had a double.
Aurora (7-14) reached the final by defeating Boone Central 7-5 and Southern Valley 17-0. Voss said she hopes the runner-up finish brings confidence to the Huskies for the rest of the season.
“We did a lot of great things today,” she said. “We never got down on ourselves when we got down, we just continued to battle. And our record doesn’t show it, but I think today was a big confidence booster for us.”
Against Aurora, Kenzie Palu led the offense by going 2 for 3. Emily Stein got the win for the Vikings (13-5) as she gave up seven hits and had three strikeouts.
The Vikings reached the finals by defeated Centura/Central Valley 9-1 and Central City 11-2.
Ritzdorf said the Vikings need to clean up their errors but felt like Aurora did a great job with its hitting. He was pleased to get three wins on the day.
“I have to tip my hat to Aurora for doing a great job of keeping the ball in play and making our defense work,” Ritzdorf said. “We had some tough plays but some of those plays we should have made and need to make if we want to be the team we want to be.
“But three wins on a Saturday isn’t cheap and the girls found a way to get it done.”