ASHTON – Amboy coach Kelly Whitman knew her team needed to answer quickly after the Newman Comets scored twice in the first inning of Saturday’s 1A AFC Regional championship game.
The response she got was an immediate, long-distance call from slugger Cassey Doege in the bottom of the first.
Amboy needed that and more for a 12-9 win and its third regional title in as many years.
“Earlier this year, we would have buckled after Newman came out and scored like that,” Whitman said.
“I knew we had to put a couple up right away to change the direction of the game,” Whitman said. “If we hadn’t, I think it could have turned out to be a very different game.”
The Comets got on the board first, as Mary Alice Oswalt drove in Laura Turnroth and Jaimie Hurd with a line-drive double to the center-field fence off of Amboy’s Lauren Akre (16-7).
“We started out just like we wanted to,” Oswalt said. “The bats started out strong. We just couldn’t let them come right back, but they did, and when they put seven up, that just took our energy right out.”
Amboy (16-7) came out swinging against Turnroth. The first seven batters reached base with six of them reaching on hits.
The big blow was Doege’s 3-run home run down the left-field line.
“The home run definitely got us going,” Akre said. “I know after we scored all those runs, it felt like the pressure was really off of me.”
Doege wasn’t finished. She added a double and a single to her line and drove in a run in the third and sixth innings.
Michaela McCoy also drove in three runs.
“We needed that first inning, and the big hits there,” Whitman said. “But, we won the game by executing later in the game and scratching across a few more runs.”
Newman (9-8) clawed back into the game with three runs in the second, Oswalt drove in two more with another double.
Amboy expanded the lead to 9-5 with single runs in the second and fourth.
Newman missed a golden chance to get closer in the fifth as they loaded the bases with one out.
Only one scored on a wild pitch by Akre, who got two crucial strikeouts to escape the inning without further damage.
“You don’t want to give up runs, but that inning could have been a lot worse,” Akre said. “That kept them from getting momentum.”
Newman made one last charge in the seventh as Oswalt, Stevens and Trujillo all reached base to start the inning.
After a Julie Hurd pop out to third, Erin Pasley came up with an RBI single. Stacia Walter followed with a double to center field that scored two more runs.
With runners at second and third, Akre buckled down and got Madalyn Klein and Turnroth to pop out to the catcher.
Star of the game: Cassey Doege, Amboy, 3 hits, 2B, HR, 5 RBIs
Key performers: Mary Alice Oswalt, Newman, 2 2B, 4 RBIs; Michaela McCoy, Amboy, 3 H, 3B, 3 RBIs
Up next: 1A Dakota Sectional semifinal, Amboy vs. Milledgeville, 7 p.m. Wednesday