Through four innings Wednesday, Chloe Yates looked unhittable.
The Graham High School pitcher worked the plate’s outside corner to near perfection, twisting five Northeastern batters into pretzels with a potent combination of location and spin.
But the Jets timed her up in the fifth, slugged their way back from a 1-0 deficit, and coaxed the Falcons into an uncharacteristic, error-filled frame to escape with a 4-2, non-league softball win on the road.
“It took us awhile to get the bats going,” said first-year Northeastern coach Wendy Olinger, whose club improved to 16-6 with a three-hit, four-run fifth.
“She was throwing the ball outside and coaxing us into (swinging at) bad pitches. We told ‘em to take a few until they saw one they liked … then they finally got on it.”
Graham, which dropped to 10-10, took a 1-0 lead in the second on a towering home run from right fielder Mallory Roberts that sailed 10 feet past the 200-foot left field fence.
Northeastern regrouped and forced Yates out of the pitcher’s circle three innings later, stringing together a pair of singles from Cidney Reed and Spencer Byerly and a long, RBI double from clean-up hitter Casey Moore to take a 4-1 lead.
Three Graham errors and a passed ball helped seal the Falcons’ fate.
“Our errors set all that up. They were the difference,” said Graham coach Ralph Foster. “We had several opportunities of our own to score. We had bases loaded once and runners on first and second with no outs. We just couldn’t capitalize.
“For the most part, this team plays good defense,” he added. “This was just two good teams battling it out, and our errors made the difference.”
The Jets had six hits — all from different batters. Graham matched them on offense, sparked by a home run and double from Roberts, but couldn’t overcome the damage of its mid-game defensive slump.
“I feel like we just kind of worked off their errors, basically,” Moore said. “We came together as a team in that (fifth) inning and focused. She had an awesome outside pitch, but we finally just focused, came together and hit the ball.”
Southeastern High School softball coach Randy “Tojo” Delaney picked up career win No. 400 on Wednesday with a 6-2 Ohio Heritage Conference win at West Liberty-Salem.
The Trojans scored three runs in the top of the eighth to help the 28-year veteran make history.