With the roof threatening to cave in on her and her team, Mykenzie Borger strolled off the mound and looked her shortstop in the eye.
“She said to me, ‘I’ve got this,'” grinned Erin Oltsher, who watched the teen right-hander become a young woman of her word.
Borger put the brakes on a Fort Frances Mud Dogs’ three-run rally and pushed the Emo Renegades to a thrilling 9-8, extra-inning victory in a Losers’ Side elimination game in the Rainy River Women’s District Fastball League playoffs last night at the St. Francis Sports Field.
The eighth-ranked Renegades went from teetering on elimination themselves the previous inning to building a lead with a four-run eighth that was just big enough to weather the late Mud Dogs’ storm.
Leading 4-3 in the fifth, the fourth-seeded Mud Dogs added what they thought would be an insurance run in the sixth when Rachelle Yeo scored all the way from when Renegades’ catcher Jannelle Andy rushed her throw to first after Shilo Beck had squibbed the ball in front of home plate.
Yeo got the first two batters in the seventh to bring up Oltsher as the Renegades’ last chance.
Facing a two-strike count after getting a second life when Heather Leishman couldn’t squeeze a pop-up in foul territory, Oltsher singled to bring the tying run to the plate.
Sarah Teeple then lofted a Texas-leaguer in between three converging Mud Dogs in centre to score Oltsher from second.
Grace Bragg then lifted one to the opposite field that allowed Teeple to hustle home with the tying run.
Only a great bases-loaded catch by Sarah Glover off Kyleigh Ossachuk with two out prevented Emo from taking the lead.
But the Renegades erupted for four in the top of the eighth, largely thanks to three defensive miscues.
Beck mishandled two grounders in a span of three batters, with Andy’s infield hit sandwiched in between to fill the bases with none out.
Oltsher’s sacrifice fly was deep enough to score Borger, then Andy raced in right behind her after Glover’s throw from right was off-target.
Teeple then came through with another clutch hit–lacing a two-run single just inside the right-field line to score Sam Jibb and Oltsher for a 9-5 lead.
The Mud Dogs came back fighting in their half of the inning.
A Kaily Greengrass single and a dropped fly ball that put Shelby Tymkin aboard were followed by a walk to Yeo that had the sacks filled.
Christine Jean later drew an RBI walk with one out before Tymkin was forced out at home on a Leishman grounder back to Borger.
Glover’s grounder to Jibb should have ended it, but Jibb’s throw pulled Ossachuk off first and deflected off her glove to bring home Yeo and Jean.
But Borger steeled herself and got Heather Wright to lift a high pop-up behind first, which Jibb grabbed for the final out.
Yeo refused to hang her head after the season-ending defeat.
“This was one of the best years that I have ever been involved in,” said Yeo, who tied for the league lead in regular-season pitching wins with eight.
“I had the privilege of being part of a positive and hard-working team and in the end, even if we didn’t win, we ended happy, smiles and our heads held high,” she added.
“What a fabulous season. Can’t wait for next year.”
Emo now will hit the road next Wednesday to face the second-seeded Red Gut Babes, who fell 6-3 in ninth innings to the sixth-ranked Dawson Tigers last night.
Reigning league MVP Tracy Morningstar lost the strike zone in untimely fashion, hitting Cass Teeple with the bases loaded before walking Meghan Bourgeois and Shelley Macdonald to bring in two more runs.
Shelby Nosan earned the win for the Tigers, who now face the defending champion Fort Frances Her-icanes in the Winners’ Side final next Wednesday at VanJura.
The ‘Canes got a forfeit win last night over the fifth-ranked Northwest Bay Beavers, who didn’t have enough players to field a team.
Another Fort Frances team also saw its season end last night as the ninth-seeded Fort Frances Angels lost 6-4 to the third-ranked Big Grassy Lynx.
Big Grassy next will host Northwest Bay on Wednesday.