Raiders win on stirring comeback

MIDDLEBURY — The Northridge softball team, per a motto adorning player T-shirts and per coach Andy Robinson, is just trying get “one percent better” with “each inning, each at-bat, each game,” but down the stretch of the Raiders’ stirring comeback win over Jimtown on Thursday night, the hosts seemed to blow even that ambitious rate away.

Sophomore Kyla Kauffman, batting in the nine hole, lined a two-out single up the middle to score freshman Halle Moeller with the winning run as Northridge downed the Jimmies 4-3 in eight innings.

Jimtown (6-2), which was seeking a sixth straight victory, grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the sixth on senior catcher Abbey Brown’s ringing two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard at Jayco Fields.

The unflinching Raiders (4-5), though, dug in just in time to capture their third straight win.

Sophomore Mia Branam laced a two-out double to left field in the home sixth to give Northridge its initial run.

Then to start the bottom of the seventh, the Raiders, who had been “hitting at-’ems” all day, as Robinson described it, suddenly strung together five consecutive singles, good for two runs to knot the score at 3-3.

That rally started with No. 8 hitter Angelina Barbaro and Kauffman both getting hits, fellow sophomore Rachel Humbarger adding another one to load the bases, then junior Rielyn Goodwin and winning pitcher Addi Knisley each driving in runs.

On the same play featuring Knisley’s hit, the Jimmies’ Brown alertly made a snap throw from home to third base to nail a retreating Humbarger — turning a bases-loaded, no-out scenario into first and second with one out.

Jimtown sophomore pitcher Layla Winrott retired the next two hitters to force extra innings.

Winrott also stroked a two-out double to right-center in the top of the eighth, but Knisley struck out the next hitter to set the stage for the Northridge win.

Moeller reached base on a one-out error at short and continued to second when center fielder Skyler Pello lost her footing chasing down the ball.

Moeller then advanced to third on a wild pitch before Barbaro walked and stole second uncontested ahead of Kauffman’s game-winner.

“Everyone has been hitting in our lineup, and that’s the thing I’m so proud of,” Robinson said regarding the production that came from the bottom of the order. “It’s not one person, it’s somebody else every game. … It doesn’t matter where they’re at in the lineup. I believe in them. They’ve all got the ability to drive a run in.”

The Jimmies grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Pello smacked a one-out double to the left-field corner to score Brooklyn Gillespie, who had singled leading off the frame and moved to second on a grounder.

Jimtown coach Brandy Eberhart was not immediately available after the game, still huddled with her team in the stands of an adjacent field more than 20 minutes later.

Robinson called Barbaro “the defensive player of the game” after she cleanly handled six fly balls in left field, some of them sharply hit.

“The girls were a little flat at the beginning of the day,” Robinson said. “We saw it in pregame, (but) they just kept building. … The girls responded.”

The Raiders, 2-0 in Northern Lakes Conference play, were set to resume NLC action Friday at Concord, while the Jimmies, 3-0 in the Northern Indiana Conference, are slated to return to NIC play Saturday at Elkhart.





Layla Winrott (L; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks); Addi Knisley (W; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk).

Jimtown: Hits — Skyler Pello 2. HR — Abbey Brown. 2B — Pello, Winrott. RBI — Brown 2.

Northridge: Hits — Rielyn Goodwin 2, Knisley 2, Kyla Kauffman 2. 2B — Willow Staley, Mia Branam.

Records: Northridge 4-5, Jimtown 6-2.