You didn’t have to tell Pilot Grove or New Franklin softball teams that Thursday night’s game was huge.
With both conference and district implications up for grabs, the Lady Tigers played perhaps their best game of the season at the right time by beating New Franklin in a slugfest 16-11.
The Lady Tigers also improved to 5-10 overall and 4-1 in the Central Activities Conference while New Franklin fell to 6-10 and 3-4 in league play.
Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs said this was a great game for the Lady Tigers. "We knew the bats would be alive on both sides," Skaggs said. "Considering the amount of walks we give up it was nice to see our offense hold up and fight through. Our girls are putting up some great numbers and hope to see it all come together this weekend as we face our district favorite, Fayette, and Crocker, who is out of our area."
Although the Lady Tigers wound up winning by five, it was New Franklin with a five run lead early on after plating one in the first and four again in the second to make it 5-0. However in the bottom half of the second, the Lady Tigers began to find those holes by exploding for nine runs to go up 9-5.  Pilot Grove never trailed after that while pushing across six more runs in the fourth to make it 15-8. Then, after the Lady Bulldogs tallied two more runs in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 15-10, Pilot Grove came back and added another run in the bottom half of the inning to go up 16-10. New Franklin tacked on another run in the seventh to round out the scoring.
Abby Schupp picked up the win in the circle for Pilot Grove while Alexia Sprick took the loss for New Franklin. Schupp pitched all seven innings and gave up 11 runs on eight hits and 11 walks while striking out four batters. Sprick, meanwhile, pitched seven innings and allowed 16 runs on 16 hits and two walks while striking out three batters.
Kaitlyn Maggard went 3-for-5 with one double and three RBIs. Grace Phillips had three singles and four RBIs while Reagan McFatrich added a single, double and two RBIs, Abby Schupp, Natalie Rentel and Sydney Bell each with two singles and one RBI, Marci Lammers and Danae Lammers each with one single and one RBI and Grace Peterson with two RBIs.
For New Franklin, Kayce Hundley had two doubles and two RBIs. Isabelle Matney added a single, double and four RBIs while Annie Benner had a single and a double, Alexia Sprick with two singles and two RBIs, Abby Maupin with a home run and one RBI, Justin Singleton and Carly Dorson with one single each and  Addy Salmon with one RBI.
New Franklin coach Ross Dowell said his team hit the ball well again. “We could not get out of the second and fourth innings and had a few errors, but Pilot Grove hit the ball very well,” Dowell said.
Pilot Grove also won the JV game against New Franklin 4-3.