ALBIA – Tying run at third. Two outs. One-run game.
"You saw two good softball teams square off tonight," surmised veteran Oskaloosa softball head coach Jay Harms.
Faith DeRonde delivered the final blow of a classic high school softball dual between the Indians and Albia on Tuesday night at the Monroe County Summer Sports Complex. DeRonde struck out Aliya Myers with two runners on base, ending Albia's bid for a game-winning rally to clinch a thrilling 4-3 Oskaloosa win.
DeRonde and Mackenna Jones each issued just one walk on the night. Jones struck out five batters, allowing three earned runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings for the Lady Dees.
Albia (5-3) was coming off two impressive wins in Oskaloosa's tournament, winning 4-3 over Lynnville-Sully and 10-6 over Albia at the Lacey Complex on Saturday. Oskaloosa (8-5) bounced back from a 15-0 loss to close out their home tournament against Ottumwa, sweeping Pella on Monday improving to 4-1 in the Little Hawkeye Conference.
"We are a different team with DeRonde on the mound," assessed Harms.
After a scoreless first inning, the Indians drew first blood in the top of the second. Presley Blommers tripled down the left field line and Kaylee Johnson executed a textbook suicide squeeze to bring Blommers home.
Johnson, who was safe on the bunt, scored on a single down the right field line by Aubrey Boender. Suddenly, the Indians had a 2-0 lead.
Oskaloosa would go to work again in the top of the fifth, loading the bases. Abby Braundmeier drove in one run with a sacrifice fly before Blommers singled in a run, giving the Indians a 4-0 lead.
After collecting only two hits in the first five innings off DeRonde, the bats of the Lady Dees finally came to life in the bottom of the sixth. Jones reached base on an error and Danica Workman doubled down the left field line, giving Albia a chance to get back in the game.
The Lady Dees would pick up their first run of the game on a suicide squeeze by second baseman Lexi Jones. Workman would score on a sacrifice fly by Lauren Bayer for the second run before an RBI single up the middle by Myers cut Oskaloosa's lead down to 4-3.
"We are getting used to getting behind, then making a comeback," noted Albia's head coach, Darren Hill. "We can't keep doing that, especially against good teams like Oskaloosa."
DeRonde recorded the win, giving up six hits and one walk while finishing with eight strikeouts, the last of which clinched the road win for the Indians in the seventh.