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    Independence freshman Macey McGhee hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal the Blue Devils’ 10-9 nonconference win over visiting Mapleton on Thursday.

    The Blue Devils trailed 6-0 before rallying to force extra innings.

    “It was very exciting for me to execute for my team,” McGhee said. “(Coach Mallory Kobak) has prepared me for that specific moment for years. It was very rewarding for me to deliver in a playoff-like atmosphere.”

    With the game tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh, the Blue Devils loaded the bases but couldn’t get the clutch hit to end the game in regulation.

    “We couldn’t get it done,” Kobak said. “The eighth inning came and we started stringing hits together, we were patient, and we were making sure we were going after our pitch. We were able to get it done against a good Mapleton team. We needed that for sure going into the playoffs.”

    Mapleton leadoff hitter Kaylee Haines homered to start the game.

    Haines a two-run shot in the second inning and the Mounties added a run on three hits in the third to take an early 6-0 lead.

    “Their first batter hit two home runs,” Kobak said. “She had a great swing and hit everything you threw at her, so we walked her the rest of the way.”

    Haines finished the game 3-for-3 with a double, two home runs, three runs scored, and three RBI.

    Despite the early deficit, the Blue Devils never felt out of the game.

    They began their comeback with two runs in the bottom of the third.

    Natalie George hit a single and Ashleigh Porter hit an RBI double and scored on Anna Weber’s single to cut Mapleton’s lead to 6-2.

    After Haines doubled and scored in the fourth, the Blue Devils tacked on five more runs.

    Ally Biondi drew a leadoff walk and Tiffani Niro singled. Paige Priebe drew a one-out walk to load the bases and George doubled home two runs to cut Mapleton’s lead to 7-5. Cat Rieger then reached on an error that scored George.

    Rieger tied the game on a Porter groundout.

    “We had a conversation that really focused on just being intense and passionate and having the mentality that you’re going to give everything you have,” Kobak said about her team’s ability to rally back. “I told them that in a hype game, that’s what was missing or at least what I felt was missing. They took that and ran with it and we came back strong.”

    A one-out triple, a fielder’s choice, and a single gave the Mounties a 9-7 lead in the top of the eighth.

    Once again, the Blue Devils responded.

    Sophie George and Priebe hit back-to-back singles and Natalie George hit an RBI single to cut Mapleton’s lead to 9-8.

    After the Mounties turned a double play, Porter and Anna Weber both singled to load the bases for McGhee.

    “For me, it wasn’t nerve-racking,” McGhee said. “I was just excited for another at-bat. I progressed through my normal routine and my teammates had really great at-bats leading up to me, which gave me confidence. I knew a base hit would (win) the game and that was my motivation.”

    McGhee hit a 2-0 pitch into left field for the win.

    “That was nice to see,” Kobak said of her freshman delivering the game-winning hit. “She was actually 0-for-3 in her first two at-bats and then came up strong had two solid base hits. It was awesome to have a clutch hit like that but it was a team effort for sure. The other girls that got on base before her had solid hits and we strung them together.”

    Natalie George led the Blue Devils with three hits, including a double. Porter, Weber, McGhee, Biondi, and Niro each had two hits in the win.

    Porter struck out six in the circle.

    The Blue Devils, who improved to 9-4 overall, host Trinity on Monday. With a Senior Night win, the Blue Devils would lock up a second straight shared Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division championship.

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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