By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy softball coach Dan Cain wants to make sure his Trojans face the best teams possible.
Thursday, they saw one of the best they’ll see all season in the Northmont Thunderbolts.
And Northmont (12-2) was finally able to break through in the fifth inning with a two-out, two-run rally then add two more insurance runs in the seventh to hold off the Trojans for a 4-1 victory Thursday at Market Street Diamond, snapping Troy’s (10-4) five-game winning streak and extending its own to seven games.
“They haven’t lost to anyone in Ohio all year,” Cain said. The T-Bolt’s last loss came during an out-of-state trip in early April. “We knew they were going to hit and that we had to hit with them, and we just didn’t hit well enough. We had some opportunities with some of our better hitters up and runners on base, but we just didn’t get enough kids on base today.”
The Trojans only left two runners on base against Northmont starter Mallory Woods, who struck out three, walked one and gave up only three hits in the game. Six Troy batters in the game jumped on the first pitch, with only Lauryn Rutan getting a hit that way — a leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth that led to Troy’s only run. But a runner was caught trying to steal second to end that inning, and Camryn Moeller — who bunted for a single with one out in the bottom of the sixth — was left stranded in scoring position on a strikeout for the third out.
“Their catcher came up big, throwing a runner out trying to steal to end that fifth,” Cain said. “We were hoping to get something started since we weren’t hitting, had to take a risk. I don’t know what their pitcher was doing exactly, but she made us look bad at times.
“We didn’t bunt well enough right off the bat. We bunted balls right back to the pitcher in the first inning, and they’re too athletic for that. But Camryn put down a sneaky bunt and beat it out for one of our three hits, and her placement there, down the first base line, was the key. If we can do that more regularly, it will benefit us later.”
Troy starter Hallie Snyder matched Woods zero for zero through the first four innings, though. She gave up a walk in each the first and second innings and a single in the third, but each time the Trojan defense recorded a force out at second to get out of the inning. Snyder threw a one-two-three fourth, and both teams remained deadlocked at 0-0.
“I think our best team we field right now is when we have Hallie on the mound,” Cain said. “The way we have the defense set up behind her is the best we have — and defensively, we played well tonight, getting the lead runner a number of times. Hallie got a win against Butler earlier this week on varsity, then got another win against them on JV the next day. We’ve been bouncing her back and forth to get her a lot of work.”
With two outs in the top of the fifth, though, the T-Bolts broke through.
Anna Mangen, the No. 9 hitter, blooped a two-out single the other way, took second on a wild pitch and came in to score on an RBI single up the middle by Courtney Jasinski. Cory Mangen and Taylor Hoover followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases, and Erin Mangen drew an RBI walk before the Trojans got out of the inning to make the score 2-0 Northmont.
“That first ball, I thought, should have been an out,” Cain said. “We didn’t make an error in the field, but our communication has been an issue where we don’t talk to each other. Our center fielder was coming in for it, took her eyes off of it for one second to look at the right fielder, and it drops in for a hit. I felt like that should’ve been an out — and they did what good teams do and jumped right on it, The next three batters all got hits.”
It was the last inning of work for Snyder, who took the loss despite giving up five hits, three walks and only two runs in five innings.
In the bottom of the inning, though, Troy began to fight back.
Rutan led off by yanking the first pitch she saw to the left field fence on one hop. She was bunted over to third by Kearston Riley, but a lineout to the third baseman kept her there with two outs. But Lainee Poling came through with a bloop RBI single to center, cutting the lead to 2-1 before she was caught trying to steal second to end the inning.
Troy threatened again in the sixth with Moeller on second and two out, but Woods got a strikeout to get out of the inning. A one-out single by Jasinski and double by Cory Mangen then put Northmont runners on second and third in the top of the seventh, and the T-Bolts got one run in on a wild pitch and another on an RBI single by Hoover, and the lead was 4-1 going into the last half of the seventh. Woods then sat the Trojans down one-two-three to finish the game.
“A loss is a loss, but I’m disappointed with the 4-1 score,” Cain said. “I felt like we shouldn’t have given up four runs. But that’s just a good hitting team. We knew we had to hit today, and we didn’t hit well enough.”
Still, it was only the Trojans’ second loss in their last 10 games — including a series split with reigning Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division champion Greenville. And, following Piqua’s split with the Green Wave earlier this week, the Trojans and Indians are currently tied atop the division at 5-1 with four games to go. Troy will face Sidney next week and Piqua will take on Butler before the two teams meet head-to-head for two games, theoretically with the title on the line, in the season’s final week.
Which is currently the last thing on the Trojans’ minds.
“It would be awesome to be playing Piqua for a league title at the end of the year, sure — but right now, the only thing we’re thinking about is Newton tomorrow.
We have Newton here on Friday and then a doubleheader against Covington Saturday. I don’t care what division they’re in, those are two really good teams. I want us to be playing good teams, and that’s exactly what Newton and Covington are. I just want us to get better.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.