NEW LONDON — Cardinal High School’s Kassidy Verrips pretty much isn’t herself if she’s not smiling to her infielders and meandering around the pitcher’s circle between outs.
She had plenty to smile about Tuesday night.
Verrips drove in four runs, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, as the Comets rallied past New London 5-4 in a SEI Superconference South Division softball contest in New London.
“When she’s not acting like that, she’s not a lot of fun to be around,” Cardinal coach Sabrina Morrison chuckled. “But the one thing about her is that she doesn’t let a bad pitch or call let it affect her when she comes to the plate.”
The Comets (7-6) rallied twice just to tie the game, when New London had plenty of opportunities to put it away. The Tigers couldn’t take full advantage of four Cardinal errors, and left runners in scoring position in four innings, including second and third late in the game.
But Verrips, who struck out 10, buckled down and kept the game tied at four in the sixth after a leadoff double by New London’s Marah Hartrick. An error followed, but Verrips retired three straight hitters.
She may have been at her best in the seventh with the game still tied and the best hitters in the Tigers’ lineup stepping to the plate. After walking Alexa Wenger, she got the powerful Layney Loyd to fly out to center, struck out Kara Krieger and got a ground out to escape the inning.
“There were a lot of decisions I had to make that inning. If (Wenger) got on, I was debating whether to intentionally walk Loyd,” Morrison said. “We were able to keep her in the park. It felt pretty good to get out of the inning.”
The Comets finally broke through in the top of the eighth. Verrips singled hard to center to drive in Maddie Cloke for the 5-4 lead. New London left a runner in scoring position to end the game.
Cardinal opened the scoring the first inning when Verrips doubled to left-center to score McClure. Then, the seesaw battle began.
New London answered in the second when a wild pitch scored both Krieger and Hartrick to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. The Comets then tied it in the fourth when Verrips grounded out to score Cloke.
The Tigers appeared to have the breakthrough they needed in the fifth. Krieger doubled in both Wenger and Loyd to give them a 4-2 lead, though Krieger was later thrown out at the plate on a fly ball to shallow center field.
Cardinal responded with two runs in the sixth, as Verrips singled in a run, and Rachel Lewman followed with an RBI single, tying the game at four.
“We talked about on the bus ride over that we were going to have to score runs to beat this team,” Morrison said. “Getting (Loyd) on a strikeout in her first at-bat was a big confidence boost for us. We wanted to get out early, but we didn’t adjust at the plate well early in the game.”
Cardinal visits Iowa Mennonite School for a Superconference crossover game starting at 1 p.m.
Chad Drury can be reached at email@example.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury