May 16th, 2017

Metzger, Rockets have Senior Night to remember


Paul Najjar

Senior Writer

Metzger, Rockets have Senior Night to remember
Assumption senior Sarah Metzger snags a fly ball in left field; cover: Maggie Metzger (No. 5 in white) steals second as Sacred Heart's Alley Puckett (in blue) awaits the throw / photos courtesy Sue Bentley

The bats played in the annual Pennant Game between rivals Sacred Heart and Assumption. The host Rockets pounded 15 hits en route to a 9-4 win Tuesday night at Assumption Green.

Though Sacred Heart pounced early, the Valkyries scored twice in the opening frame, they stranded eight runners and had some uncharacteristic miscues in the field that led to big innings for Assumption.

“Fifteen hits is a lot of hits and it might be more than we’ve had in our last few games combined,” Assumption head coach Lisa Pinkston said. “I think Senior Night was a big deal and facing our rival made everyone come out really fired up. Sacred Heart can hit too and they got up on us early, but we kept playing the next pitch, the next at bat; not taking any pitch off.

“Our mentality this season is that we have to outscore the opposition. We’ve been accustomed to fighting back, making adjustments and fighting through adversity.”

There was nothing but the ping of the bat ringing around the field in the bottom of the first as Assumption dug itself out of that 2-0 deficit. Junior Jordan Ridge and sophomore Maddie Metzger led off the inning with back to back singles and sophomore Braxton Downs smacked a double to score Ridge. Sophomore Sydney Young then rapped a two-run single to plate Metzger and Downs.

Junior Maranda Thomas followed with a sac fly to advance Young and freshman Madison Loechle reached on a base hit.

That set the stage for the Rockets’ lone senior, Sarah Metzger, to deliver an RBI single that scored Young. Loechle would score on an Ashton Dowdy fielder’s choice.

It was quite the showcase of bats.

Sarah Metzger would finish with a few great memories of her Senior Day. She went 2 for 4 at the plate with a single, double, an RBI and a run scored. And she made a highlight-reel diving catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Sacred Heart’s Jessica Smith to end the game.

“Sacred Heart’s a huge rival and they’re an underdog type of team just like us,” the senior Metzger said. “It was important for us to score early and get up on them as quickly as possible because we knew they’d come back. Everyone was keyed-in and ready to hit today. Instead of watching pitch after pitch, we attacked as quickly as we could.”

As for the game-ending catch?

“Honestly, I’ve been dreaming of something like that for a long time,” Metzger continued. “Before the at bat I was like, ‘no way is this going to come to me for the last out.’ And then it did and I thought, ‘oh gosh I gotta catch that.’ I was ready, but when I saw it in the air I really didn’t know if I could get to it. Just so glad I was able to make the catch.”

Downs added, choking back tears: “That was just a special moment and I was so happy for Sarah. She’s like a sister to me.”

Sacred Heart got a three for four performance from senior designated hitter/back-up catcher Claire Ely. In her fourth start behind the dish she knocked in two of the team’s four runs and scored once. She’s hitting .389 on the season and one of her hits put a dent in the Assumption scoreboard beyond the left-centerfield fence. She crushed that one.

“This rivalry is really big and I knew my team needed me to hit,” Ely said. “I needed to stay relaxed and put good swings on the ball. It felt great to be able to help the team.”

Ely’s coming off ACL surgery in late July and she’s delivered 27 hits in her abbreviated season.

“Claire really wanted this game and she’s busted it in her four years here,” Wheatley said. “She did all she could do to help the team.”

But it was a flurry of miscues, four errors in all, that were the Valkyries’ undoing. Though the Valkyries have lost two starters to injury in recent days, catcher Kate Black broke her finger and the next day left fielder Kaelin Gregory went down to a torn ACL.

“Lot of runs scored today, but we didn’t play very good defense at all for whatever reason,” Sacred Heart head coach Bob Wheatley said. “We pride ourselves on playing solid defense and it just wasn’t there today. That happens. Give Assumption credit, they hit a lot of shots at us. We got our bats going a little, but they were hard to stop today.”

SHA pitcher Emma Burnett was tagged for the loss, but she had a strong day at the plate with a single, double and two runs scored. Molly McMillen also contributed two hits. Sophomore shortstop Ally Puckett singled and scored a run

Assumption starter Ashton Dowdy recorded the win and knocked in two runs. Maggie Metzger, Downs and Young all scored twice. Junior Abby Bentley reached base three times on two singles and an error and recorded a sacrifice fly.

The Valkyries (12-11) close out their season playing four games in the next four days. Assumption (11-18) will host Spencer County on Friday. 


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