Amber Fiser more than made up for almost knocking the head off her coach with a line-drive foul ball Thursday night.
Fiser, an eighth-grade phenom for the Marion Indians, was the winning pitcher in four innings of near-spotless relief against the visiting Mount Vernon Mustangs and also got the biggest hit of the game.
She tagged the game-winning hit in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory with a towering blow that kissed high off the left-centerfield fence.
“I just took a deep breath,” said Fiser, about to bat with two outs and two runners on base in the extra-inning affair. “I was only thinking about getting a hit. And I almost hit it out.”
At the plate a few innings prior to her late-game heroics, she laid into a fastball and sent a screamer down the third-base line that caused Coach Kim Knapp to hit the dirt. “I saw the seams on the ball as I went down,” Knapp said.
Coincidentally, Knapp's own daughter Beth was standing two feet away on third base as her mother was nearly decapitated. And it was the younger Knapp who trotted home with the winning run while Fiser’s hit sailed into the distance.
“I thought it was out of here,” Beth Knapp said.
In a back-and-forth Wamac Conference battle that the Indians (17-12, 7-8) never led until the end, Beth Knapp was the offensive game-changer. She reached base every time she was up and scored the decisive final two runs, first to tie the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning and then to win it in the next.
Knapp walked with two outs in the extra stanza. Cleanup slugger Michalyn Mohr, whose big bat had been silent all night, kept the rally alive with a clutch single to center to set up Fiser’s winning wall-banger.
“The meat of the order came through when we needed them,” said Coach Knapp. “They’ve been consistent for us all year.”
In the previous inning, Beth Knapp started with a lead-off single. She moved to second on a sacrifice by Mohr, then landed on third when a high popup by Fiser was lost in the lights by the Mustang second baseman.
“I was just trying to get on base,” said Knapp, who had knocked in Marion’s first score in the third with a double to left. “I knew the people behind me would get me in.”
Marissa Whitney loaded the bases with a walk and starting Indian pitcher Mikalya Goemaat sent the contest into overtime with an RBI single to right. Earlier, Goematt had knotted the tilt at 2-2 with a sharp single to right.
The senior hurler went the first four innings on the mound, giving up Mount Vernon’s first two runs on three straight hits in the bottom of the second.
“I thought it would give them a different look by bringing Amber in,” Knapp said of the pitching change. “Their speeds are different, and Amber throws more junk.”
Fiser did give up a run in the fifth, but only because a pick-off play at third base was mishandled.
“It was a good all-around team win,” Coach Knapp said afterward. “We got ourselves in trouble as a team. But then we got out of trouble with great team effort.”
MOUNT VERNON (3)
Martin, p, 4 0 1 0, Chapman, ss, 4 0 0 0, Dixon, 4 0 0 1, Wieditz, 1b, 4 1 2 0, Whitley, c, 4 1 1 0, Deninger, rf, 2 0 1 1, Dalstrom, dp, 3 0 1 0, Kroger, 2b, 3 0 0 0,
Lengwin, lf, 2 1 0 0, Kolker, cf, 0 0 0 0. Totals 30 3 6 2.
Scott, rf, 3 0 0 0, Vanourney, 2b, 4 0 0 0, Knapp, 1b, 4 2 4 1, Mohr, ss, 3 0 1 0, Fiser, 3b/p, 4 0 2 1, Whitney, dp/2b, 3 1 0 0, Perkins, c, 3 0 1 0, Goemaat, p/dp, 4 0 3 2, Bacon, lf, 3 1 2 0, Nathem, cf, 0 0 0 0. Totals 31 4 13 4.
Mount Vernon 020 010 00 - 3 6
Marion 001 100 11 - 4 13
W - Fiser. L - Martin. 2B - Knapp (2), Fiser, Wieditz, Whitley.
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