MURRAY — The score bounced back and forth throughout Saturday evening's final of the 37th Murray Softball Tournament between the host Lady Mustangs and Class 1A sixth-ranked Martensdale-St. Marys Blue Devils.
Murray (6-2) avenged its title game loss from the year prior by holding on for an 8-7 victory.
Trailing 4-2 after miscues in the fourth allowed the Blue Devils to seize the lead, the Lady Mustangs rallied together.
Zadie Hatfield plated Katy Gibbs on a sacrifice fly to right-center in the fifth to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
Kelli Romero singled and Emma Decker reached by way of an error to start the sixth. With one out, Bailey Frederick's sharp single to left plated Romero to tie the game.
“A sophomore (Frederick), first year starting at third and just learning how to hit and she took that ball as hard as she can swing it and it went in there," Murray coach Danny Jensen said.
Gibbs kept THE tide in Murray's favor when her grounder resulted in an error.
Following a Hailey Chew fielder's choice out, Hatfield stepped to the plate against Nikki Rudolf for her fourth trip to the dish. Hatfield blasted Rudolf's offering on a rope to right-center to clear the bases for a two-run double.
Hatfield was named player of the game for her 1-for-2 performance at the plate (she reached base on three of four tries) and four RBIs.
MSTM scratched across two more runs, one via an Alayna Olson single and another on a passed ball to bring the Blue Devils back within a run in the bottom of the sixth. (The Lady Mustangs played as the visiting team after losing a coin flip before the final.)
Romero bashed a single to the fence to plate Murray's final run and gave Murray an 8-6 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
“I guess I’m most pleased with how many times we came back on offense," Jensen said. "Every time they would score we would come back and score.”
With the nerves of all in attendance frayed, the Blue Devils plated a run on a Hannah Sweet ground ball to shortstop Alyssa Whitham, who barely beat the runner to second base for a force out and the second out.
“My nerves were heavy on the bucket. Last year we had that fly ball to right field that Hailey dove for and missed (a Kylie Sherwood game-winning hit) and we lose by one," Jensen said. "So I was sure hoping that wasn’t happening again. When they got a couple on, my nerves did start going up.”
Lady Mustangs pitcher Bre Klein buckled down and induced a popout to third base from Brinley White to end the game, stranding runners on second and third in the process.
“I told them after the game that that is the intensity we have to have to finally get to Fort Dodge," Jensen said. "I said that’s the regional final atmosphere that we have to have, that excitement and that intensity throughout seven innings.”
Martensdale-St. Marys fell to 8-3.
Murray defeated Nodaway Valley 12-2 on Friday and Seymour 12-4 on Saturday to get to the final.
Chew was player of the game of the Seymour win as she was 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, two runs and six RBIs.
Klein took player of the game honors in the win over the Wolverines as she struck out eight batters, allowed three hits and no walks over six innings. Klein also hit 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs.
The Lady Mustangs have a trying week ahead, with Mount Ayr (today, Monday), Melcher-Dallas (Tuesday), Interstate 35 (Wednesday) and Creston's John Stephens Classic (games against Red Oak and Bondurant-Farrar) all slated for this week.
First round results
Saturday morning's loser's bracket games, which were set to feature local squads Nodaway Valley, East Union and Orient-Macksburg, were cancelled due to heavy rain.
Orient-Macksburg lost 10-3 to Melcher-Dallas as Brooklyn Sammons and Kaela Eslinger both posted two hits and a double apiece.
Reagan Weinheimer went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for Nodaway Valley in the loss to Murray Friday.
East Union lost to Martensdale-St.Marys Friday 11-0. Callie Gossman and Molly McNeill each had a hit.
Murray 8, Martensdale-St. Marys 7
R H E
Murr 101 014 1— 8 9 6
MSTM 010 302 1— 7 5 5
Murr: Bre Klein 4K 1BB, and Zadie Hatfield. MSTM: Nikki Rudolf 1KK 1BB, Kailey Walker (7) 0KK 0BB and Brinley White. W — Klein (6-2). L— Rudolf. HR — none. 3B — None. 2B — Murr: Zadie Hatfield 1. RBI — Murr: Zadie Hatfield 4, Bailey Frederick 1, Bre Klein 1. MSTM: Jayda Gay 1. Multiple hitters — Murr: KelIi Romero 2. MSTM: Kailey Walker 2