TAMPA — For one of the rare times this season, the state’s No. 1-ranked team looked vulnerable.
Facing one of the best pitchers in the state Thursday night — Sickles junior Robyn Herron, who came in with a 0.29 ERA in 71.2 innings — Newsome trailed by three runs after two innings.
The Wolves, however, did not tighten up. In fact, after they fell behind, they seemed to get even more fired up.
When the last out was recorded more than three hours after the game started, it was Newsome doing the celebrating in a 9-3 victory.
“We have not been in that situation of being down like that this year so I was really proud of the way we stepped up,” Newsome coach Ally Ledenham said. “I just told them to not give up, and they didn’t. They responded.”
And that included pretty much every Wolves’ player: Nine of 11 hitters, in fact, collected at least one hit, and four batters — Samantha Walz, Jadeyn Ruszkowski, Olivia Feldman and Kennedy Warbritton — finished with two hits apiece.
Sickles (15-1 and No. 6 overall in the state by MaxPreps) seemed like it was ready to make a statement when it jumped to a 3-0 advantage in the bottom of the second, sandwiching some timely hitting around a couple of sacrifices and a passed ball.
Newsome (18-0) countered with a run in the top of the third, three in the fourth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh.
Just after the Wolves scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the fourth, Herron pulled up with an injury to her left ankle. After trying to wrap it, Herron attempted to throw some warmups but decided she couldn’t go any longer. Sickles coach Al Bowman said he didn’t think Herron’s injury was serious, but felt it was good to give the ankle a rest.
Sophomore DaNia Brooks finished out the game, but struggled against the Wolves’ lineup, which is tough top to bottom.
Newsome pitcher Kelsey Winters, meanwhile, stayed strong mentally and found her groove as the game went on, ultimately earning the complete-game victory, allowing just five hits and striking out 10.
“Kelsey Winters is a workhorse, and she got behind in the beginning she adjusted and came on strong,” Ledenham said. “She never let anything get to her.”