HELENA — Helena Capital High pitcher Nicoles Ames admitted she wouldn't under any circumstance lose a crosstown game to Helena.
Ames' determination in the circle and in the batter's box was a big contributor to Capital's 9-7 victory over Helena on Tuesday afternoon at Helena.
Ames, a senior, said it is always fun to win the crosstown rivalry game against the Bengals (4-4, 2-1).
"It's always fun to win crosstown, and I've only lost crosstown one other time which was my freshman or sophomore year," Ames said. "I wasn't about to lose it again this year."
Ames' top of the eight inning RBI-single and her eight innings pitched — a 10-hit, 11-strikeout performance — was also a critical factor in the victory for the Bruins (4-4, 2-1).
"When it came down to the final inning, our team stepped up," Ames said. "We are young and made some errors, but they played with a determination, and confidence to win."
Bengals coach Ryan Schulte observed that Ames was clutch in her performance that ultimately made the difference in a tightly contested game that saw both teams manufacture a total of 16 runs in an eight-inning game.
"Nicole played a great game," Schulte said. "It wasn't a clean game on either side, but ultimately Nicole came through in the end, and that is what matters."
Ames, who claimed she overcame anxiety as a less experienced pitcher in middle school, just didn't let the lively Helena bats phase her.
"I learned as a pitcher you just don't break down," Ames said. "When I was younger, that was an issue and I made some mistakes. I would get worried and I would be over my head, but now that I've had four years of varsity experience, I just showed confidence in my teammates, even through errors."
By the conclusion of the top of the third inning, Capital had what seemed to be a commanding 4-1 lead over Helena when the tide of momentum began to shift.
The Bruins opened up scoring in the first inning. Lauren Archie grounded out, scoring one run, and then proceeded to tally three runs in the fifth inning.
The big inning for Helena came thanks to singles by Kali Anderson, Mariah English and Amber Countryman.
Helena evened things at seven in the bottom of the sixth inning. An error scored one run for the Bengals.
Bruins coach Mike Miller said the chaotic nature of the contest is everything a rivalry game should be.
"Our team did just enough when we were down, and we were able to get a couple of key hits," Miller said. "That is what we've been missing most of this year is a clutch hit when we needed it."
Capital's Riley Ames was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Jenna Priddy was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Helena had four big hitters including Nicole Price, who was 2-for-4, Kali Anderson was 2-for-4 with an RBI, Brooke Ark was 2-for-4 and Mariah English was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Miller said the crosstown game was a "playoff atmosphere."
"This game is way different than a normal game," Miller said. "Coach Schulte and I are good friends. It's tough to beat your friend but it is better than losing to him."
Schulte said he felt his team came up short in the closely-contested contest.
"Both teams spotted each other some runs, but earlier in the game we made too many errors and mistakes, honestly," Schulte said. "I haven't seen us make that many errors in games this year. I think it was a good game because both teams battled the entire game, and that is what you expect from crosstown."