Vikings take out frustrations on DowagiacPublished 10:47pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Niles softball player Megan McKeel swung the bat for the first time this season Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader against Dowagiac.
She delivered in the clutch as her two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning helped the Vikings rally past the Chieftains, 6-4. Niles also won game one, 15-0.
McKeel has been limited as a player this year because of two broken vertebraes suffered during softball season last year.
When she came to the plate in the sixth inning, Niles and Dowagiac were tied at 4. A Chieftains’ error before McKeel came to the plate had tied the game.
“I didn’t have any other option,” said Niles coach Ryan Frontczak about McKeel batting. “I was out of people on the bench. She came in and got a great hit. I’ve kind of been nursing her. I went to her and asked her if she was ready and she said she was fine.”
McKeel also was the winning pitcher in the second game. As a reliever, she worked the final 3 1/3 innings and allowed no earned runs, two hits and struck out three. McKeel got out of jams in the sixth and seventh inning. Dowagiac had runners on second and third base with one out in the sixth and put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh. Both times the Chieftains were unable to score.
“We put ourselves in bad situations,” Frontczak said. “It’s frustrating.”
Niles won game two despite committing four errors and giving up four unearned runs.
“I’m not happy how we played in that second game,” Frontczak said. “I think we let them hang around. When you score 15 runs in three innings in the first game (of a doubleheader) you’ve got to come out and do your job. We didn’t do our job in the second game. We had a couple errors and gave up a couple unearned runs. We’re better than that.”
Dowagiac coach Mike Behnke watched his team commit seven errors in game one and total 10 errors in the doubleheader.
“I definitely feel we gave one away and should have had a split,” said Behnke.
Sarah Cramer collected four singles for Niles in game two, which the Vikings led 3-1 after three innings.
Dowagiac took a 4-3 lead in game two after getting an RBI groundout from Corinne Kasper in the fifth inning.
Niles got off to a great start in the opener and didn’t let up. Olivia Jordan’s homer to start the bottom of the first inning ignited the Vikings. It’s the first career homer for Jordan.
“She hit one off the fence against Mattawan and hit one off the fence against Lakeshore,” Frontczak said. “She was close. All the girls hit the ball well.”
Niles didn’t seem bothered by the cold temperatures as the Vikings banged out 13 hits in the opener. Hannah Porterfield collected three hits and drove in five runs. Courtney Ankrapp added two hits and three RBIs, while Kylee Myer had three hits and two RBIs.
“I think the first game proved to our girls where we’re at,” Frontczak said. “It was tough going back-to-back (in the previous games) against the No. 1 teams in the state (Mattawan and Lakeshore). We came out and crushed the ball.”
Kristyn Turner singled twice for Dowagiac in game one.
“We didn’t come ready to play,” Behnke said. “We struggled with our pitching and had a lot of balls and a lot of walks.”
Dowagiac 000 – 0 3 3
Niles 23(10) – 15130
Alyssa Allen (L) and Kourtney Mitchell; Molly VanDeKeere (W) and Hannah Porterfield
2B: Tala Gentry (N), Courtney Ankrapp (N)
3B: Porterfield (N)
HR: Olivia Jordan (N)
Dowagiac 001 210 0 – 4 3 7
Niles 111 003 x – 6 8 4
Sabrina Ruiz (L) and Kourtney Mitchell; Molly VanDeKeere, Megan McKeel (4-W) and Hannah Porterfield
2B: Mitchell (D), McKeel (N)
Varsity records: Dowagiac 3-5, Niles 4-4