Lukehart steps into spotlight and shines bright for Vikings

FLINTON — Glendale was without its head coach, in a 4-0 hole and its star pitcher was unable to pitch due to a broken finger.

Then, Madison Lukehart hit a towering home run and the Lady Vikings seemed to snap out of their funk.

As the ball cleared the fence, Lukehart let out an excited scream and her teammates followed suit. Glendale rallied to tie the game and then scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh after Everett reclaimed the lead late to win the Inter-County Conference championship game, 6-5, Thursday.

“It was my first home run ever, and I was just so happy I could do something for the team to bring us up when we were down,” Lukehart said. “This win meant a lot to the team and the whole school.”

Winning pitcher Kyla Campbell scored the game-winning run after tying the game with an RBI double. Campbell had one tough inning, the second, in which she allowed four runs, but she was hurt by a pair of Glendale errors.

“She’s doing a great job as a freshman,” Glendale interim coach Beth Campbell said. “She’s nervous, to be honest. She doesn’t have a lot of innings under her belt. She pitched like 37 innings this year, and she sometimes has that one inning where she’s unsure of herself.”

Campbell was pitching because the Lady Vikings’ top pitcher, Lexi Mulhollen, recently suffered a broken finger on her throwing hand and is currently unable to pitch.

“Part of (Kyla Campbell’s) success has been because Lexi has been such a good mentor for her,” Beth Campbell said. “Lexi pulls her through, and Brooke (Smeal), her catcher, is a senior, too. The three of them work together to make it work.

“I got another girl warming up, and I think (Kyla Campbell) was like, ‘she’s going to pull me.’ That got her going. She has an athlete’s mentality, and Lexi tells her to fix this and that and calms her down. I put a lot of the credit on how she’s doing with Lexi and Brooke.”

Mulhollen played first base despite the broken finger and even had a pair of hits in her first game back since the injury.

Everett pitcher Brynna Fox retired the side in order in the second inning and had faced just one batter of the minimum going into the third inning when Lukehart greeted her return to the pitching circle with the home run.

“It was really exciting for everybody, because she’s a kid that works so hard,” Beth Campbell said. “She’s been improving and improving. She’s working all the time, and for her to hit that home run, it pumped everybody up.”

Lilley Vereshack added a sacrifice fly after three straight singles. Olivia Reese tied the game in the fourth inning with an RBI single, one of her four hits.

Glendale will be the top seed in next week’s District 6 Class 1A playoffs and will open at home against Blacklick Valley.

“They are determined,” Beth Campbell said. “They are ready to go.”

Everett took advantage of two walks and two errors to go along with Kristen Ewing’s RBI single to take a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning. The Lady Warriors held the lead until an error in the fourth inning led to two unearned runs.

“This was a taste for next week and the playoffs,” Everett coach Jackie Levy said. “It’s a pressure game, but either way we get to keep going. We’ve got a young group, and there were some jitters, so it was good to get that out now.”

With the game tied at four in the top of the seventh inning, Katie Price worked the count full and fouled off three pitches before hitting a two-out RBI single to give Everett the lead.

“She is someone that throughout the season has done that,” Levy said. “She’s been in that No. 5 hole, and we count on her to have good at bats like that. She always puts the ball in play, and she’s a fighter.”

Thursday’s game continued a string of closely contested games for Everett.

“As many close games as we’re playing now, it will only make us better,” Levy said. “That’s what we’re going to see, and that’s going to get us prepared for the playoffs. We’ve had like six in the last two weeks.”

EVERETT (5): Ewing 1b 311, Hinish 2b 200, Sobzack 2b 100, Colledge cf 321, Iseminger c 401, Price 3b 402, Treece ss 400, Browning lf 211, Nave dp 211, Schleinkofer rf 311, Fox P-flex 000. Totals — 28-5-7.

GLENDALE (6): Mulhollen 1b 402, Reese 2b 404, A. Vereshack ss 301, L. Vereshack cf 300, Smeal c 401, Spanek cr 010, Campbell p 422, Noel lf 200, McElheny lf 200, Lukehart cf 221, B. Vereshack 3b 311. Totals — 31-6-12.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Everett 040 000 1–5 7 3

Glendale 002 200 2–6 12 2

E–Treece, Schleinkofer, Price, A. Vereshack 2. 2B–Campbell. HR–Lukehart. RBI–Ewing, Price, Reese, L. Vereshack, Campbell, Lukehart. WP–Campbell. LP–Fox. SO–Campbell 8. BB–Campbell 3, Fox 1.

Records: Everett (12-6); Glendale (18-3).

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