DeBord keys Glencoe win over Westview
On Senior Night, and in a game expected to be the last on a Glencoe field that's scheduled for replacement as part of a renovation coming this summer, the Crimson Tide's softball team took another big step towards a second straight Metro League championship Monday, May 7, defeating the Westview Wildcats 2-1 in a hard-fought game at home.
The Tide's Morgan DeBord, in a scoreless game, stole home with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to spark a two-run rally, and Glencoe survived a late Wildcat comeback attempt to break a tie atop the league standings and give the Tide a one-game lead with two games remaining.
"She read that," said Glencoe head coach Jason Eastman, discussing DeBord's steal of home after the game. "She wanted to go the play before — and she's got the green light if the pitcher looks away and the catcher lobs it — and she went, and it was a huge play."
Westview head coach Ronda McKenzie, while upset with the loss, was complimentary of DeBord and the play that may have decided the game. She also saw it as a teaching moment for her talented but inexperienced battery in the game.
"We had a freshman pitcher and sophomore catcher that hasn't been catching all that long, and clearly, that wasn't on their mind," McKenzie said. "But (DeBord is) fast and quick, and she made a great play."
Glencoe's Izzy Womack and Westview's Julia Jordan did the bulk of the heavy lifting in the circle, shutting their opponents down for much of the first five innings. The Wildcats managed just three hits in that span, while the Tide had only a single by freshman Dana Butterfield before fellow freshman Megan Gaskin got things started with a one-out single to start the bottom half of the fifth. DeBord then grounded into a fielder's choice to get to first, and later got to third when the throw on her steal attempt got past the Westview shortstop and rolled into right field, setting up the play of the game.
With two outs and junior center fielder Jensen Becker at the plate, Jordan's pitch to Becker was high for ball four, and as Becker headed for first and the catcher sent her throw back to the circle, DeBord started for home and slid easily in under the tag, giving the Tide a 1-0 lead.
"I'm thinking I've got to score if we're going to win this game," said DeBord. "I was hoping Jensen would walk, and the catcher wasn't looking, so I took off."
DeBord said it was something that she and her coach had briefly talked about during a stoppage in play.
"Jason said if I wanted to I could, but he just said, 'If you feel confident, go,'" DeBord said. "I decided right as she threw it back to the pitcher."
Next, Womack almost immediately doubled down the right field line, scoring Becker, and the Tide were up 2-1.
But there was no quit in these Wildcats. Senior Reece Martin singled to start the sixth, and then Taylor Alto walked to put runners on first and second. Following a failed bunt attempt that led to the inning's first out, an error allowed Martin to score, cutting the lead in half before Womack got consecutive groundouts to end the Westview rally.
After Glencoe went quietly in its half of the sixth, the Wildcats put two runners on in the seventh with two outs and Alto at the plate, but the junior shortstop grounded out to end the game and the Tide escaped with a 2-1 win.
"I'm so happy for the seniors," said Eastman. "They've put so much work into it, so to get this win on senior night and our last time on this field, was pretty special."
A subdued McKenzie congratulated the Tide after the win, but her mind was clearly on her own team's mishaps.
"It was obviously a good game between two very good teams," McKenzie said. "I expect Glencoe to do very well in the postseason, and they took advantage of a couple of our little mistakes."
Meanwhile, Glencoe has a one-game lead over both Westview and Jesuit, the latter of which the Tide are scheduled to play in their regular-season finale Friday, May 11, following a game this Wednesday, May 9, with fourth-place Sunset. Eastman knows there's still work to be done, and will prepare his team accordingly.
"Sunset is going to be tough," Eastman said. "They've got great pitching, great coaching and we know they'll be a difficult game. So we've got to buckle back down, put on our cleats and get ready for the next game."
DeBord echoed her coach.
"We'll just be working our butts off preparing for the next game," she said.