HYDE — The Clearfield Area High School softball team doesn’t have an ace pitcher.
The Lady Bison have a pair of them.
Rachel Hoffman proved that again Tuesday in a 4-1 Mountain League victory over Tyrone at the Bison Sports Complex that evened Clearfield’s record at 2-2.
The junior right-hander didn’t quite match the one-hit, 11-strikeout gem senior Heather Picard fired at Bradford through four innings of Monday’s five-inning 10-0 non-league win.
But she came close, permitting only two hits and one walk while racking up 15 strikeouts in a scintillating route-going effort.
“She’s solid, and she’s gonna continue to be solid,” coach Bob Lewis said. “I think Tyrone was having a tough time catching up to her fastball. She’s pretty overpowering at times.”
Hoffman was untouchable — whiffing 10 of the first 13 batters she faced, six on called third strikes — until one out in the fifth inning.
Her perfect game went by the boards on a walk to Kelsey Emeigh. After Alex Brooks reached on Clearfield’s lone miscue, Finnley Christine ended the no-hit bid with a dandy bunt to the right side to fill the sacks.
All of a sudden, the Lady Eagles (2-3, 1-2 ML) were poised to break up the scoreless duel between Hoffman and freshman Anna Baran, who was working on a two-hitter.
An infield pop-up and a strikeout kept Tyrone at bay, though, and Clearfield promptly took the lead with some small ball after Janelle Wallace led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to deep left center.
Wallace advanced to third on Lauren Butler’s bunt and dashed to the plate on Megan Vanderburgh’s pop fly caught by Allen only a few steps into the grass behind short.
“I told Janelle if the momentum of that girl is going into the outfield, we’re gonna attempt it,” Lewis said. “I think we surprised her a little bit because her throw came up the third base line a little bit. And it was enough. (Wallace) is quick. She can make that play.
“And for Lauren to come into that situation and deliver a perfectly-set bunt… she’s done everything we’ve asked of her. I couldn’t be prouder of where she’s grown to this point as a true freshman stepping into that second base job.”
Allen got Tyrone even again in the top of the sixth with her two-out towering drive that sent Lady Bison Mikayla Ebeling crashing through the fence in straightaway center field.
“Actually, it was a pretty good pitch, and the girl just went down and got it,” Lewis said.
Then, the Lady Bison got to Baran.
“We were expecting that caliber of pitcher,” Lewis said. “I think what our biggest problem was she was busting us inside and sawing us off. We had a lot of good swings; they were just on the handle. Once we made the adjustment and got our hips opened up on the ball a little bit, we took a lot better cuts in the fifth and sixth innings.”
The game-winning run came on three consecutive pitches as Hoffman punched a single, her second hit, behind first base, Devynn Ireland dropped a single into short left and Lucy Kovalick drilled a single to right center.
Insurance was provided by Victoria Ireland with a rip past short and Wallace with a sacrifice fly to left to go with her first two hits of the season.
“We’ve been waiting on her,” Lewis said. “I told her before the game and I told her during the game that I have faith in her. I know her abilities. I know what she’s capable of. And it was a very, very nice to see her bust out today.”
Hoffman joined Picard in the win column with strikeouts around a foul pop in the seventh.
“Our pitching has been phenomenal all year,” Lewis said. “Those girls, back in January and through the whole entire year, have been throwing. They keep us in games. They’re two very extremely gifted, quality pitchers, and I’m thrilled to have both of them.”
Lewis told his team before the game it would be important to get to .500.
Afterwards, he told the players that the losses in close games at Bald Eagle Area and Bellefonte last week had prepared them for the test they passed against the improved Lady Eagles.
“I really, sincerely, believe that,” he said. “We didn’t panic.
“Our game plan was to be patient at the plate. It’s a shame we had to wait six innings to come alive, but we stuck to the game plan, and the kids executed, really, to perfection.
“It was our best base-running game so far. Fundamentally, it was very sound.”
The Lady Bison figure to be in two more tight games this week with veteran pitchers awaiting visits, Central’s Kylie Gunnett at Martinsburg Wednesday and Penns Valley’s Maggie Lynch at Spring Mills Friday.
“The league’s just polluted with good pitchers,” Lewis said. “We’re gonna be challenged, and we’re looking forward to it.”
See photos of the win here: http://www.ladybisonsports.org/lbsSBall040913.html
TYRONE — 1
Kristen Bonsell 2b 3000, Ashley Tepsic dp 3000, Destiny Allen ss 3111, Jordan Henderson 1b 3000, Kelsey Emeigh 3b 2000, Alex Brooks lf 3000, Finnley Christine c 3010, Tessa Corle cf 2000, Kristlyn Dibert rf 2000, Anna Baran (flex) p 0000. TOTALS: 24 1 2 1.
CLEARFIELD — 4
Megan Vanderburgh ss 3001, Mikayla Ebeling cf 3000, Rachel Hoffman p 3120, Devynn Ireland lf 3110, Lucy Kovalick 3b 2111, Victoria Ireland 1b 3011, Heather Picard rf 2000, Janelle Wallace c 2121, Lauren Butler 2b 2000. TOTALS: 23 4 7 4.
Score by Innings
Tyrone 000 001 0 - 1 2 1
Clearfield 000 013 x - 4 7 1
E – Allen; V. Ireland. LOB – Tyrone 3; Clearfield 6. 2B – Wallace. HR – Allen. Sac – Butler. SF – Vanderburgh, Wallace.
Tyrone – Baran 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Clearfield – Hoffman 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 15 K.
HB – Baran 1 (Picard). WP – Baran 1.
W – Hoffman (1-1). L – Baran.
Umpires – Ray Powell (plate) and Tom Link (bases).
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|3/26||CENTRAL||ppd.||0 – 0|
|3/28||HUNTINGDON||ppd.||0 – 0|
|4/01||@ Central||ppd.||0 – 0|
|4/03||@ Bald Eagle Area||ppd.||0 – 0|
|4/04||@ Bald Eagle Area||0 – 1||0 – 1|
|4/05||@ Bellefonte||4 – 5||0 – 2|
|4/08||BRADFORD||10 – 0||1 – 2|
|4/09||TYRONE||4 – 1||2 – 2|
|4/12||@ Penns Valley|
|4/23||@ Huntingdon (DH)|
|4/26||BALD EAGLE AREA|