SENECA — Nicole Pihl's right arm had already been through seven tough innings.
After Pihl's Seneca team tied Ottawa in the bottom of the seventh with two runs, the Lady Pirates sat back and waited for the right pitch in the top of the eighth, knowing that Pihl had been working the entire game.
Ottawa was able to get two runs across the plate without registering a hit in the eighth, thanks to four walks and two wild pitches. Pirates pitcher Jaleesa Kindred shut the Lady Irish down in the bottom of the inning, giving Ottawa a 5-3 win.
"Towards the end there I saw [Pill] was getting a little erratic in the strike zone so I wanted them to take a few more pitches, and work the count a little bit more into our favor," Ottawa coach Jeff Davis said. "She got down in the count a little bit there in the end and we were able to get some runners on base from walks."
With the way Ottawa (7-1) pitchers Kindred and Hillary Borgerson-Hon threw the first six innings, it never looked like the game would even see an extra frame.
Seneca got the game's first run on a Sarah Radtke RBI double in the first, but the Irish bats were quiet after that — until the seventh.
With two outs in the inning, Seneca got an RBI double from catcher Miranda Hougas, scoring Allison Coughlin who walked, and an RBI single from Radtke to send the contest into extras.
Radtke came to the plate after Kindred pitched around the powerful Pihl, who was in the No. 3 spot. Pihl already had a double and a single, in addition to a third-inning walk.
"I was going to make somebody else hurt us instead of her," Davis said. "I've seen her hit a grand slam against us last year, and I saw her hit two hard-hit balls. I was going to let somebody else do the damage if they were going to do it."
Getting pitched around is something Pihl, a junior, has already had to deal with and will continue to face during her final two prep seasons. Tuesday, Seneca coach Dan Stecken saw his team prove that the rest of the Irish can contribute when Pihl is taken out of the game.
"I was just proud of our girls' effort coming back in the seventh and not giving up and getting it done. Especially, teams pitching around Nicole, they're going to have to learn Sarah Radtke's a pretty good hitter," Stecken said. "A lot of good things happened (in the bottom of the seventh). We had Miranda Hougas step up, Allison Coughlin taking that big walk in the seventh to keep it alive. That's all big, everybody's got to contribute. Not just Nicole Pihl."
Pihl dropped to 3-3 with the loss, giving up three earned runs in her eight innings. She walked seven hitters and struck out three while giving up five hits.
Borgerson-Hon started the game for Ottawa, giving up the one earned run in four innings. A pitcher who isn't a hard thrower, she was replaced by the faster Kindred in the fifth. Kindred improves to 6-1 with the win.
"[Borgerson-Hon], you kind of got used to by the third, fourth at-bat and then [Kindred] came in with a little faster speed, a little bit straighter though, not too much movement," Hougas said. "So it was adjusting to the speed, really."