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Dawgs top Huskies on Gore walk-off HR

Mar. 22—LAPEL — Often, due to the unpredictable March weather and the timing of the school's spring break, Lapel is fortunate to get one or maybe two softball games under its belt before the Madison County tournament. For the Bulldogs to get four games completed during the opening week of the softball season — as it has done this week — is a victory in and of itself.

To complete a busy and cold week with a dramatic victory over a highly regarded opponent was simply the cherry on top of the sundae for the Bulldogs.

Junior Laylah Gore completed a seventh-inning Lapel rally with a walk-off three-run home run in a 6-4 Bulldogs win over Class 3A Hamilton Heights on Friday night.

The Huskies fell to 1-1 while Lapel improved to 3-1 after a busy opening week for first-year coach A.J. Balser.

"An awesome win for us," he said. "We just battled. The seventh inning — that was huge."

The winning blast from Gore came on a 3-2 count and the seventh offering from Heights pitcher Lilly Roush, an IUPUI commit, after the first two Bulldogs reached in the inning. Fellow juniors Tatum Harper and Ava Everman opened the frame with hard-hit singles, bringing Gore to the plate with nobody out.

It was a moment of potential redemption for Lapel's catcher, who came up short in a high-leverage situation in her previous at-bat.

In the fourth, Lapel rallied to tie the game at 3-3 on a Harper RBI single and was looking for more with the bases loaded after Everman drew a walk. But Roush fanned Gore on three pitches as Lapel left the bases loaded for the second time and squandered the last threat it would pose until the seventh.

"It wasn't necessarily bad pressure, I think it was good pressure from the mind standpoint," Gore said. "I knew I didn't want to let my team down. I was a little upset about striking out, but I had to let it go. I'm still in the game catching and making plays."

But Gore did not miss when presented with a second chance.

"My big thought was just to put the ball in play and make contact," she said. "Good things come with good contact. That's basically my mindset."

"That kid is clutch. I've watched her play since she was about 10 years old," Balser said. "She's always come through in clutch situations, and that was a huge hit for her."

Gore's home run also made a winner of junior Karlie Jannings, who battled back from a shaky opening inning and through her share of adversity throughout the night.

The Huskies struck for three runs in the first, including a two-run home run by Kamryn Rhoton. But aside from a single run allowed in the fifth on a Kassidy Schakel single, Jannings was stingy the rest of the way. She surrendered seven hits and just two earned runs while striking out five and stranding a total of eight Huskies runners on base.

"Her drop ball is very good. She's worked very hard on that," Gore said. "She fought really hard to throw a ball that was hittable but also untouchable. She battled really hard today."

What Jannings was most effective at doing was keeping the game close so the offense could get back in the contest.

Lapel scored its first run in the second after Gore led off with a single. Addie Bodenhorn then reached on a two-base error that also allowed courtesy runner Jama Everman to score. Paige Stires singled, and Delaney Balser walked, but Roush retired the next two batters to leave the bases loaded.

The Bulldogs threatened in the third when Harper's drive to left was fumbled for a three-base error. It was nearly a four-base error, but the senior Bellarmine commit stumbled as she neared the plate and was tagged out. Gore then doubled with two outs but was stranded.

In the fourth, Stires led off with a single, was bunted into scoring position by Jannings and scored when Blaser's grounder to second was booted for an error. One out later, Krystin Davis extended the inning with a walk before Harper's single tied the game.

The busy start to the season for Lapel continues when it hosts 4A Greenfield-Central on Monday before rival Frankton comes to town Tuesday.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.