McARTHUR — The Jackson High School softball squad apparently took a page from its baseball brethren.
After trailing the entire game against the “visiting” Vinton County Vikings, the Ironladies rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win 8-7 in a Division II sectional tournament tilt on Saturday.
The Ironladies trailed by four runs twice, including at 7-3 after five-and-a-half frames, but managed to stage another Jackson comeback.
Just three days earlier, in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League Day of Champions championship baseball game, the Ironmen stormed back to stun host Zanesville 9-7 and capture the league title.
Though it wasn’t quite the comeback on Saturday for the Ironladies, it was close.
Jackson never led against the Vikings, who were the visiting team on the scoreboard despite the game’s location at Vinton County High School.
The Ironladies utilized the last at-bat to their advantage, scoring four runs to erase a 7-4 deficit and advance in the sectional tournament.
With the win, Jackson improves to 8-15 overall, and now gets top-seeded Gallipolis for the fourth time this season.
The Ironladies, which went 0-for-4 last season against Gallia Academy, will try to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Blue Angels on Wednesday.
Vinton County, conversely, which lost at Jackson in its season opener, sees the season end at 6-14.
However, Saturday’s sectional bout got away from the Lady Vikings.
Vinton County held leads of 1-0, 5-1 and 5-3 before two unearned runs in the sixth pushed the edge to 7-3.
Jackson scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth, then plated four runs on a walk and five straight hits in the last of the seventh.
The Vikings, meanwhile, failed to record an out, as a single and an error allowed reserve Jami Oberholzer to score the winning run.
Oberholzer, who replaced catcher Erika Danver in the lineup when Danver injured her finger in the sixth, raced around from second on an infield single by Ladoska Garvey.
She initially made it to third before Vinton County pitcher Ashley Graves threw the ball wide of first in an attempt to get Garvey.
It was the last at-bat in a bit of a weird — and at times wacky — game.
Jackson committed six errors to the Vikings’ two, but both of Vinton County’s came in the final two innings.
Of the Ironladies’ half-dozen, three came in the two-run VC sixth, and two occurred on a single by Allison Graves in the third in which she raced all the way around the bases.
In addition, an assistant coach for Jackson was ejected from the field.
However, as Ironlady head coach Tim Shook said “we’ll take it (the win).”
“We had some freaky things happen in the field and all, balls trapped and on the ground and stuff like that, but it worked out,” he said. “We didn’t play well the first half of the game, we dropped some balls and threw some balls we shouldn’t have thrown, but we did better the second half of the game.”
The strange nature of the contest was evident, Shook said, once Jackson indeed scored the winning run.
“What was freaky about that was that we scored the winning run, and I thought we were still playing,” he said. “We’re the home team, but we’re on the visitors’ field.”
But, the Ironladies took advantage of that last at-bat.
All six batters in the seventh reached base, started by an Angel Smith walk and finished by Oberholzer scoring off the bat of Garvey.
In between, Lauren Parker doubled in Smith from first, then four straight singles by Breanna Moore, Audra Atwood, Taylor Rippeth and Garvey brought home the tying and winning runs.
Atwood singled to right to score Parker, then Rippeth ripped a line-drive single to left which scored Moore for the 7-7 tie.
“We needed baserunners and we got baserunners,” said Shook. “Lauren got a big hit with a double down the line and it just kind of went from there. Then Taylor stepped up with a big hard hit to tie it. In some games earlier in the year, if we’re trailing by three, we’re dead. Today, we just thought we were going to go up there and at least put some pressure on them to win this game.”
All four runs occurred with no outs, as Ashley Graves went from winning to losing pitcher in a matter of minutes.
Graves gave up seven earned runs over the seven innings — eight total on eight walks and 10 hits. She struck out five Ironladies, and hit Rippeth with a pitch in the bottom of the sixth.
Rippeth, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on an error, scored with two outs on a single to left by the re-entered Danver.
That made the score 7-4, setting up the final frame.
Parker, who relieved Jackson starter Tasha Lewis in the third, earned the win in the circle.
She allowed no earned runs and no walks in five full innings, and scattered six hits while striking out eight.
In the Ironladies’ 5-0 shutout of Vinton County in the season opener, Parker fanned 15.
On Saturday, she retired the side 1-2-3 in the fifth, and faced four batters apiece in the fourth and seventh.
She also stranded five Vikings, including Chelsey Thompson and Graves at second and third in the sixth.
With the exception of the seventh, Parker struck out at least two Vikings in her first four innings.
“Lauren gives me the advantage of bringing someone in that we don’t have to play defense,” said Shook. “She can get strikeouts. That makes a big difference.”
Parker pitched her way from a 5-1 deficit, as her defense didn’t help her on the second batter she faced.
Allison Graves singled to left and, aided by two Ironlady throwing errors, came around to score along with her sister and Thompson.
That made the score 5-1, as Thompson broke a 1-1 tie by singling to center to score Katey Taylor.
Taylor led off the third by reaching on Lewis’ lone walk.
“Tasha didn’t cause the (Vinton County) runs to score, we caused the runs to score,” said Shook. “We had two throwing errors and they score three runs on one play.”
Speaking of walks, Graves gave up three straight free passes, including the last two with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth.
That trimmed the Ironlady deficit to 5-3, before the Vikings regained the four-run advantage on two hits and three Ironlady errors in the sixth.
The initial Ironlady error, coupled with a single by Donyell Castor, allowed Jessi Harkins to cross for the game’s initial run in the second.
But Jackson quickly tied the game in the bottom half when Smith led off with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on a two-out single by Atwood.
Of the Ironladies’ eight runs, half were scored with two away.
For the game, Atwood was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, as Rippeth went 2-for-2 and Garvey 2-for-5.
Rippeth and Garvey had back-to-back singles in the fourth, setting up the three straight walks to Haley Riegel, Danver and Danielle Miller.
Danver had two RBI and three walks while Smith and Riegel each walked twice.
Smith added an infield single in the third.
For the Vikings, Harkins went a perfect 4-for-4 in her final game.
Castor and Ashley Graves each went 2-for-4, as Allison Graves, Thompson and Callie Woolett each went 1-for-4.
In addition to Harkins, it was the final tilt for Thompson, Woolett and the ace Ashley Graves.
All were sophomores when the Vikings shared the TVC-Ohio championship, and captured the Division II sectional with a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the same Jackson Ironladies.
That game two years ago was also at Vinton County, only that time, the Vikings had the last at-bat.
This time, it came to the aid of the Ironladies.
However, the Red and White —for a second straight season —must travel to Gallipolis for the sectional semifinal.
Both teams are members of the SEOAL South, as Gallia has already defeated Jackson three times this season.
And, by a combined score of 34-4, including a shutout and two mercy rules.
Despite the odds on paper, though, Shook said he hopes his squad can shake up the Division II sectional.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I’ve got a good relationship with Gallipolis, but I’d like nothing better than to knock off the number one seed. That’s what we’re going to try to do. Last year, we were 0-for-4 against them. This year, it would be nice to be 1-3. So we’ll see what happens.”
First pitch for the fourth match is set for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Memorial Field in Gallipolis.
* * *
Vinton Co. 014 002 0 — 7 11 2
Jackson 010 201 4 — 8 10 6
Ashley Graves and Allison Graves
Tasha Lewis, Lauren Parker (3) and Erika Danver, Jami Oberholzer (6)
W — Lauren Parker; L — Ashley Graves
VCHS: Ashley Graves 7IP, 8R, 7ER, 8BB, 10H, 5K, 1HBP, 37BF
JHS: Tasha Lewis 2+IP, 4R, 3ER, 5H, 1BB, 1K, 11BF; Lauren Parker 5IP, 3R, 0ER, 6H, 0BB, 8K, 23BF