Columbia City swung for the fences and came away with a trophy Tuesday, hitting two home runs to beat host Northrop 5-1 in a Class 4A regional championship game.
Senior Hayley Urban hit a two-run homer to left field that broke a 1-all tie in the top of the fifth inning, and then hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the seventh inning that allowed the Eagles to score their fourth run. Junior shortstop Brooke Lickey immediately followed the sac fly with her 10th home run of the season.
Northrop went down in order in the bottom of the seventh inning, allowing the Eagles (25-6) to spill onto the infield to celebrate.
Coach Dan Weigold said the win was a special moment for a team – and a town – still reeling from the death in mid-May of 19-year-old Columbia City resident Easton Adkins following a car crash. A few days later, on May 22, an enormous warehouse explosion on Line Street killed Zach Sparkman, a husband and father of four.
“We’ve had a lot of things happen in our community, and I’ve told these kids, ‘They can pick the community up,’ and that’s kind of what’s happening right now,” Weigold said. “We needed a pick-me-up, and these kids are doing it. It’s a wonderful feeling. These kids can power the city.
“You just sit back and admire what they can do. I sit back and let them go.”
The Bruins (23-4), who had won the SAC title and the DeKalb Sectional, took the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Senior Isabella Rose led off with a long fly to left field that was dropped by the fielder, allowing her to take second base. Rose scored on sophomore Alexis Key’s single down the third baseline.
That would prove to be the only run the Bruins would score all game. Senior outfielder Dekiya Pittman struck out for the second out of the inning and senior Madison Beekley hit a fly to center field that was caught by a diving Savanna Reed, who likely saved her team at least one run.
“Savanna Reed is flat-out amazing out there. If it’s a pop fly, she’s going to go get it, whatever it takes,” Weigold said. “I know she’s working hard for volleyball, but maybe diving for volleyballs helps her judge the fly balls well for us.”
The Eagles didn’t score their first run until the fourth inning, when Lickey hit a single down the middle, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a single down the third baseline hit by Columbia City pitcher Natalie Haselby. They would add two more runs in the fifth inning, when freshman third baseman Raegan Pratt reached on an error and Urban then crushed a pitch from Northrop’s Alexa Huth over the fence for a 3-1 lead.
“I knew that Alexa is a great pitcher, and I knew she’s one of those pitchers who pitches a lot of first strikes,” Urban said. “So I knew the pitch was coming, and I saw it was coming right down the pipe, and I just knew that was the pitch.”
Lickey’s home run, the final hit of the game, tied the school’s single-season home run record.
“It feels crazy. My parents, my coaches, everyone on the team has been working so hard all season,” Lickey said. “And just being able to help them in that way is something special.”