Hearn lifts Palo Verde softball in battle for first

Nearly everything Danielle Hearn touched in the final two innings Wednesday turned to gold.

Palo Verde’s second baseman started a game-tying rally with a hit and drove in the winning run with another hit in the seventh inning.

Even a baserunning mistake she made after the go-ahead hit resulted in another run, as the Panthers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to post a 5-2 softball victory at Arbor View and take over sole possession of first place in the Northwest League.

“Just yesterday (Hearn) was telling me how she thrives in pressure situations,” Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass said. “She wants to be up when the game is on the line. You just look at her and know she is going to get the job done.”

Stymied for five innings by Arbor View pitcher Amanda Jones, Palo Verde (17-4, 7-0 Northwest) tied the score in the sixth, keyed by Hearn’s one-out single.

An Aggies error and a wild pitch put runners on second and third for Lauryn Stover, whose single through the right side tied the score.

Hearn’s hit in the seventh — after an odd turn of events — untied it.

Jones, who limped off the field after injuring her leg on a slide into second base in the bottom of the sixth, came back out to pitch the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to Rachel Mez.

Mez advanced to second on Andi Molin’s sacrifice bunt and third when Salina Gonzalez bunted for a base hit by avoiding a tag by the Aggies’ first baseman.

Angel Counsil’s hit off the glove of Arbor View’s third baseman loaded the bases for Hearn, who looped a 1-1 pitch into shallow right-center to score Mez.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Hearn said. “That’s all I can do.”

Hearn rounded first and continued to second before realizing the base was occupied. As the Aggies (12-2, 7-1) attempted to retire Hearn, Gonzalez raced home with an insurance run.

“I yelled at her for it, but obviously you can’t be too mad about that,” Glass said.

A sacrifice fly by Erika Stratton made the score 5-2 and gave plenty of breathing room to Palo Verde pitcher Melissa McCormick, who ignored doctor’s orders and played despite having pneumonia.

McCormick tossed a two-hitter, allowing two first-inning runs on a triple by Savanah Webster and an RBI ground-out by Karli Lehr, and struck out eight.

“It was totally worth it,” McCormick said. “I’m about 70 percent, but I couldn’t miss this game. I couldn’t do that to my team.”

Jones, who allowed three hits through the first five innings, retired only one batter in the seventh before being replaced. She struck out nine and allowed one walk.

“This was important because we viewed ourselves as the underdogs,” Hearn said. “We were hungrier, and we wanted it more.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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