COLFAX — Colfax-Mingo catcher Rhiannon Haley stood helplessly behind home plate as her team’s seventh-inning lead sailed over the left-field fence. She then watched as North Polk players paraded out of the third-base dugout and engulfed teammate Rebecca Rimathe in celebration following Rimathe’s home run that gave North Polk a 4-3 lead.
Haley provided one more celebration Wednesday night. She got her teammates in on the fun, too.
The eighth-grader smacked a two-RBI double in the bottom of the seventh and turned disappointment into high-fives as the Tigerhawks flooded onto the infield at the end of a 5-4 win.
“I was looking to get all the runs in,” said Haley, who came to the plate with runners on first and second. “I was excited.”
Haley’s heroics spared Colfax-Mingo a disappointing loss after the Tigerhawks were one out away from ending the game in the top of the seventh. Her game-winning hit found open space in left field, allowing Alivia Haley and Amy Russell to circle the bases.
Colfax-Mingo head coach Bryan Poulter said he stressed to his team in between the top and bottom halves of the seventh inning the need for “really focused at-bats.” The Tigerhawks came through as Alivia Haley and Russell led off the inning by drawing their team’s first two walks of the game before Rhiannon Haley drove them in.
“They took advantage of the situations that were presented, they weren’t chasing bad pitches and got on base,” Poulter said. “Rhiannon came through with a nice hit.”
The win was the second straight walk-off victory for Colfax-Mingo. The Tigerhawks beat Grandview Park Baptist Tuesday night by scoring one run in the seventh for a 10-9 outcome.
“Statistically, the odds are in their favor,” Poulter said of North Polk while referring to the Comets’ 4-3 lead in the seventh, “but I’ve seen this collection of players come from behind several times. They don’t have a quitting attitude ... We came from behind against Grandview last night. Kind of a similar situation, so I think that confidence continues when they have success like that and they believe they can do it.”
Russell pitched all seven innings for Colfax-Mingo (13-6) while being at what Poulter described as “less than 100 percent.” She retired the first nine hitters she faced and finished the night with eight strikeouts.
Russell helped her own cause by hitting RBI doubles in the first and fifth innings. Both times she drove in lead-off hitter Ries Wilson, who Poulter recently slid into the top spot of the order as he tries to optimize the team’s lineup. Wilson rewarded the 15th-year head coach Wednesday by going 2-for-4 and scoring both times she reached base.
Poulter explained his lineup was part of the reason he was confident heading into the bottom of the seventh despite the Tigerhawks losing their lead. Colfax-Mingo’s two-, three- and four-hole hitters stepped into the batter’s box in the final inning and delivered in a big way.
“A lot of people are going to try to pitch around Amy,” Poulter said. “Rhiannon has done a real nice job of making them pay for that.”