NEW LONDON — Hardwick-Ladora-Victor gave New London a tight game in Monday night’s regional tournament opener, but a Layney Loyd walk-off double ended the game and HLV’s season. Loyd hit a walk-off double to right-center field with one out in the seventh, scoring Sofie Reighard to win the game.
The Tigers had the top of the order up to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Chloe Heitmeier had just polished off a one-two-three inning, and it was time for the big bats to come through.
Reighard, who already had two singles in the game, stepped up and sent a leadoff single into right field. Marah Hartrick was able to bunt her over to second, and that set up for Loyd’s heroics.
“I was feeling a little crappy because I’ve been hitting grounders,” said the junior catcher after the game. “I just went up there and tried to visualize myself getting a hit, and just focus on a base hit, nothing more.”
Loyd smoked one in between the right and center fielders. As the ball rolled to the fence, Reighard scampered around to score standing.
“We were at the heart of our lineup, so if we don’t get it there, we’re going to be down at the bottom coming in, and they were going to be at the meat of theirs,” head coach Mark Chiri said after the win. “One got on, two pushed her over and we had three and four to hit her in. That’s exactly how you draw it up.”
New London had a rough time scoring in the middle innings. The Tigers scored their first run on a wild pitch in the first inning, but they were unable to push any runs across. New London even had the bases loaded with nobody out in the third, but a double-play and a pop out ended the threat, leaving the score at 1-1.
“Early in the game, if it wasn’t for bad luck, (we had) no luck,” Chiri said. “We just couldn’t get anything rolling early as far as the big hit that we needed, but we played solid defense and Heitmeier pitched a solid game.”
H-L-V scored one run on a two-out double in the top of the fifth, but Heitmeier kept them off balance for the rest of the night. She gave up just the one earned run on six hits and no walks, while striking out one batter in seven innings.
Loyd finished the game 3-4 with a double, two stolen bases and an RBI. Reighard was 3-4 with a run scored. They combined for six of the team’s nine hits on the night.
Kara Kreiger finished 1-2 in the win. Alexa Wenger and Heitmeier each went 1-3 as well.
New London moved on to play the second seed in the region, 15th-ranked North Mahaska. That game will be at North Mahaska on Wednesday, July 10.