Greenway proved the ninth inning was Hammer Time.
Lexi Hammer drilled a two-run, two-out hit in the top of the ninth to give Greenway a 7-5 victory over Proctor in a battle of high school softball unbeatens Wednesday at Terry Egerdahl Memorial Field in Proctor.
The Raiders improved to 9-0 in a topsy-turvy game that saw the Rails (5-1) blow a four-run lead before sending the game to extra innings when down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh.
Greenway didn’t get its first baserunner until there were two outs in the fourth and its first hit until the following inning, when Proctor led 4-0. Payton Rodberg crushed a two-run home run to left-center in the third to spark the Rails.
But as in other sports, this group of Raiders athletes never give up.
“We always trust each other and don’t get down,” said Hanson, a second baseman.
Trailing 4-1 to open the sixth, Hammer singled to lead off and scored on Hannah Anderson’s two-out double. It was Anderson’s play at third base in the bottom of the fifth, tagging Maddy Walsh rounding third with the bases loaded, that kept the Raiders within range.
Hanson then slugged a two-run homer to center field to cap the four-run inning that gave Greenway a 5-4 lead.
“I was in my head and getting angry,” Hanson said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to take it out on the ball and sail it.’ ”
Raiders pitcher Miranda Gernander recorded the next five outs until her counterpart, Maddy Walsh, sent the first two-out offering over the left-field wall to extend the game.
Jadin Saville and Ava Johnson singled with one out in the ninth and advanced to second and third on a groundout. That left the drama up to Hammer.
“I was nervous in the box, but I just wanted to make sure I got on base and score some runs,” said Hammer, who was 3-for-4.
A number of players from both teams play on the same summer-league club so Proctor coach Bud Joyce was aware of how good of athletes were in the Greenway dugout.
“I should have known better; I didn’t do a great job today. That’s probably on me losing today,” Joyce said. “A loss never hurts in my opinion. You can learn from it, and hopefully that’s what we do. You get to a point where you haven’t lost a game and you think you’re pretty good, and obviously today proves that we have a lot of things to work on.”
The sides could face each other again down the road in the Section 7AA playoffs.
“They’re a tough out, a good section opponent,” Joyce said. “I’m guessing they will be there at the end.”
That’s what the Raiders had expected in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the season to be canceled. They are playing like they expect to be there this time.
“We were crushed about (not playing) last year,” Hanson said. “We still have that fire and want to go all the way.”
Greenway 7, Proctor 5, 9 innings
WP: Miranda Gernander 7IP, 5R, 7H, 3K, 3BB. LP: Maddy Walsh 7IP, 7R, 8H, 5K, 2BB. G: Lexi Hammer 3x5 (2B), 2R. P: Baylie Peterson 2x5, 2R; Walsh two-out HR in 7th, 2BB; Payton Rodberg 2R-HR in 3rd.