Morgan County softball scored a walk-off win over Franklin County last week
All Mackenzie Torbush needed was a little bit of freedom.
Torbush, a junior with the Morgan County softball team (5-4, 3-1 Region 8-AAA), delivered a game-tying home run and walk-off RBI single last Thursday to push the Lady Dogs past Franklin County, 5-4. She might not have come through had it not been for a conversation she had with her head coach entering the 2018 season.
Jason McBay, the Lady Dogs’ head coach, came to Morgan two years ago. He asked the naturally right-handed Torbush to become one of the team’s slappers, meaning she would bat left-handed and mostly focus on putting the ball in play in the infield.
McBay said he recently changed his stance on Torbush’s role.
“I just kind of one day, for whatever reason, just went up to her and I said, 'Listen, just do what makes you happy. If you want to hit right-handed, hit right-handed. If you want to slap, slap. I just want to see you smiling and enjoy playing the game,’” McBay said. “[Thursday], hitting the home run, what a huge, huge, huge home run that was. To see her come up at the end, I had all the confidence in the world then that she was going to get the bat on the ball.”
Torbush dug in for an at-bat in the middle stages of last week’s game. The Lady Dogs had just blown a 3-0 lead and trailed 4-3. That’s when Torbush decided to swing from the right-hand batter’s box for the first time in two years.
She connected on the first pitch and snuck it over the right field wall to tie the game. In the bottom of the seventh, Torbush again batted from the right side and drove in Alissa Webb to score the winning run.
“Honestly, it's been a long time coming,” Torbush said. “I've worked really hard. I did slap all last year and then, this year, McBay gave me the green light to hit or slap. I've been working both and it paid off tonight.”
Torbush was not the team’s only contributor.
Jenna Lyons, Zoey Brown, Reign Williams, Avery Kinnett, Dakota Cepuran and Nicole Edwards combined for eight hits, a couple of which preceded Torbush’s walk-off single.
Williams provided a big boost early when she pushed across two runs on a double to right field.
Franklin battled back, though, aided by defensive mistakes made by the Lady Dogs. Starting pitcher Bailey Nix got roughed up a bit during the middle innings when the Lady Lions launched their comeback bid.
Nix gave up six hits and one walk but limited the damage to two earned runs. She made a couple of errors to go along with the miscues by a couple of the defenders behind her.
Fortunately for Nix, the earned and unearned runs were bested by the work of her teammates.
“That's definitely one thing about this team: They fight really hard,” Nix said. “They just give it their all.”
Webb scored the winning run after replacing Brown once Brown got on base. On Aug. 9 against Jefferson, Webb, the team’s shortstop, tagged out a runner who was trying to steal second. Webb’s glove hand crashed into the runner’s helmet, resulting in a hairline fracture in her wrist.
Last Thursday’s pinch run appearance was Webb’s return to action. She still has a cast on her left hand but Webb said she’s happy to contribute again.
“I broke my wrist about two weeks ago and I didn't think I was going to get to play until I get my cast off, but then we kind of figured out a way – I just wrapped it, and then I could pinch run,” Webb said. “I'm just excited that I even got the chance to get in the game but, to be the winning run, is kind of crazy.”
The Lady Dogs had won four of their last six games entering this week. Torbush said they need to remain consistent as they go deeper into region play.
“Just keep doing what we're doing,” she said. “Do our job. If we're supposed to get the bunts down, get the bunts down. If we're supposed to go up there and hit the crap out of the ball, hit the crap out of the ball.”
Morgan’s season was hit with several challenges early on. Webb was just one of several injured players.
Now, the Lady Dogs are starting to heal up a little and settle into the season. They’ve looked good so far, and Thursday’s win could spark them even more.
“I've got to thank God,” McBay said. “At the end of the day, this is just softball, but I think we've learned so much about life and about ourselves in just nine games. You've got to tip your hat to God and say, 'When it looks like complete madness and it looks like things are totally spinning out of control, you've still got a plan.' I think this is just one step toward that. Maybe we needed some encouragement. Maybe we needed something good to happen. It's just one game, but it's a big one.”