Nitro blasts to Highland Tourney win

Published 9:33 pm Monday, August 8, 2011

The Niles Nitro 16U softball team went a perfect at the Highland tournament in Highland, Ind. tournament recently.

In its first pool play game, Nitro defeated Portage IN 5-3 to open the tournament.  Trailing 3-1 in its last half inning Nitro scored four runs to take the lead.  Tala Gentry led off with a double.

Then a single by Abby McKeel, who took 2nd on the throw home, set the table for Courtney Ankrapp who singled in Gentry and McKeel.  A triple by Kelly Harper scored Ankrapp making it 4-3.  Rachel Bonek then doubled to score Harper making it 5-3.

Nitro held Portage scoreless in the bottom half.  Megan McKeel picked up the win scattering five hits, no walks and five strikeouts.  Olivia Jordan, Gentry and Ankrapp each had two hits while Morgan Richer, McKeel, Harper and Bonek added one a piece.

In game two of pool play Nitro defeated St. Johns 8-0.  Entering the fourth inning the game was scoreless and Nitro rallied with two outs to score eight times.

With runners on second and third, Jordan Rank delivered the first blow scoring two runs.   After a walk to Larkin Carey and a stolen base, Jordan reached on an error scoring Carey.
Richer walked, then was followed by three straight RBI singles from Gentry, Harper and Ankrapp to make it 8-0.

Tala Gentry picked up the win in tossing a one-hitter and striking out 9 of the 13 batters she faced.  Ankrapp went 3-for-3 at the plate while Gentry, Harper, Bonek and Rank each singled.
In its first bracket game Nitro defeated Highland 15-2 in three innings.  Megan McKeel picked up the win allowing three hits and striking out three.

Ankrapp continued her hot hitting going 3-for-3 with 4 RBI, while Jordan and Richer each had two hits both with triples.  Gentry, Harper, A. McKeel, Rank and Maureen Craig added one hit a piece, with Craig driving in a run.  Rank also had two stolen bases for Nitro.

In its second bracket play game Nitro defeated St. Johns 5-2.  Trailing 2-1 entering the fourth, Abby McKeel singled and scored to tie it up to 2-2.

Nitro took the lead for good in the fifth scoring two more times.  Maureen Craig singled to lead it off, stole second and scored on a double from Gentry, Ankrapp singled to score Gentry making it 4-2.  Nitro scored once more in the sixth, Harper reached base on error, followed by a double from Abby McKeel putting runners at second and third. Bonek drove in the last run with a sharp ground out to second base. Gentry picked up the win allowing only three hits and striking out three.  Abby McKeel and Craig led Nitro with two hits each, while Richer, Gentry, Ankrapp and Rank each added one.

The championship game was a thriller as Nitro defeated Portage 6-5 in extra innings.  With what appeared to be a comfortable lead at 3-1 heading in to the top half of the last inning, Portage bats came alive as they tallied four runs to take a 5-3 lead.  Nitro responded with two runs of its own to tie the game at 5-5.

Richer got it started with a sharp single to left, followed by singles by Gentry and Ankrapp to load the bases.  With two outs and bases loaded, Abby McKeel delivered the game-tying single to make it 5-5. Using the international tiebreaker rule, putting a runner on second base to start the inning Nitro held Portage scoreless on some great pitching by Gentry.

Rachel Bonek was put on second to start the tie breaker for Nitro, and with one out Megan McKeel stepped to the plate and delivered the game winning hit with a line shot into left center field to score Bonek giving Nitro the 6-5 win and the tournament.  Gentry picked up the win striking out 11 batters.  Megan McKeel had two hits to lead Nitro, while Richer, Gentry, Ankrapp, A. McKeel and Craig each added one.

“This was a great way for us to end our season on a high note and with some great games and very timely hitting,” said coach Rick McKeel. “We had several girls step up and make big plays at crucial times and that’s what it takes to win.”

Niles Nitro 16U will be hosting some tryouts in the very near future as soon as a date can be scheduled.  For anyone interested please contact Rick McKeel at