HYDE — The Clearfield Area High School softball team outhit Bellefonte with senior Rachel Hoffman enjoying a monster game at the plate Wednesday, but the visiting Lady Raiders managed to eke out a 5-4 win at the Bison Sports Complex.
The Mountain League scrap was played on the fenceless junior varsity field because of the muddy varsity diamond, and Hoffman took advantage by bashing two home runs that rolled so far into left center she was steaming toward third base by the time the fielders could track down the ball.
Hoffman also went the other way for a pair of doubles, including a hard-hit grounder into center leading off the bottom of the seventh.
Lady Bison coach Bob Lewis was somewhat surprised Hoffman saw a pitch she could hit in that situation after cracking the long homers in her two previous at-bats.
“It looked like they were trying to work her down a little bit,” he said. “She just got something she could handle and a quality hitter like her can drive the ball away.
“I was a little bit shocked, but they had some confidence they were gonna be able to face everybody behind her and get some outs.”
Rachel Bernier did just that, leaving Hoffman stranded at second via an infield pop-up and two strikeouts to earn the victory.
She had relieved Tara Baney after Megan Vanderburgh reached base on an error and Lauren Butler drew a walk with one out in the fifth inning.
Hoffman gave her second offering a ride to put the Lady Bison in front 4-2, but Bellefonte (5-1, 3-1 ML) evened the count in the sixth on Olivia Ripka’s wind-blown double to left, Clearfield’s lone error on Angela Capparelle’s sacrifice bunt and Sara Menna’s groundout.
A clutch double by Vanessa Cooper plated Bernier from first with the deciding run in the top of the seventh. Kept in check for three at-bats by Hoffman, the hard-hitting Lady Raider catcher dropped a fly ball just inside the left field line with two outs.
Hoffman was locked in a scoreless duel with Baney through three frames, retiring 11 batters in a row before Capparelle broke up her perfecto by ramming a single through the right side with two outs in the fourth.
After Hoffman issued her lone walk, Menna looped a single into short right for the first run. Stevi Confer followed with drive to deep left, scoring Baney. Menna would have made it 3-0 but, before she reached home plate, Confer was cut down at third on perfect relay throws by left fielder Raeleigh Redden and shortstop Vanderburgh.
“Those are things we work on in practice, and they executed,” Lewis said about what was a defensive gem at the time.
Hoffman got one of those runs back when she ripped a grounder past short for the first of her inside-the-park homers en route to her 4-for-4, four-RBI afternoon.
“Just the hours she puts in pays off each game for her,” Lewis said. “She knows how to drive the ball. She hit’s the ball with authority. And she’s very, very selective in the pitches that she wants to hit. To her credit, she’s very, very good at it.”
Vanderburgh and Devynn Ireland had two singles apiece as all but one of the Lady Bison safeties were produced by the one, three and four batters.
“The top of the lineup has been doing the job all year,” Lewis said. “We’ve just gotta build around those kids.”
While their hit total was higher than their opponent’s in three of their four outings, the Lady Bison (1-4, 1-3 ML) also struck out a season-high 13 times.
“We improved on one area and declined on another,” Lewis said. “The girls that threw for them were quality pitchers. We went up and we were taking our cuts. That’s what I want to see.”
Hoffman suffered the loss in a route-going effort, striking out four and giving up seven hits.
“She was strong and she was hitting her spots,” Lewis said. “There were moments where she lost a little bit of focus, but she was quick to regain it. She pitched a heck of a game.”
Encouraged for the most part, Lewis pointed out that the Lady Bison need to pull out a victory in a tight game against a team like Bellefonte, a perennial District 6 Class AAA title contender, to get over the hump and gain some much-needed confidence.
“We’re getting close,” he said. “They finally put seven innings together, and we’re very, very proud of ‘em.
“We got after them before the game and told them (they) can leave a mark here on the program and play hard. And they did.
“They have a choice that they can either hang their heads from it, or they can bounce right back and show up and play ball tomorrow like that. If they do that, we’ve got a really good chance of winning.”
The Lady Bison will play at the BSC again Thursday when Penns Valley pays a visit.
BELLEFONTE — 5
Vanessa Cooper c 4011, Olivia Ripka 2b 4110, Angela Capparelle cf 2210, Tara Baney p-lf 2100, Sarah Menna 1b 3012, Stevi Confer 3b 3011, Erin Pugh lf-ss 3000, Liz Linn rf 3010, Jessica Fishburn dp-ss 2000, Rachel Bernier p 1110, Mya Trauger ss (flex) 0000. TOTALS: 27 5 7 4.
CLEARFIELD — 4
Megan Vanderburgh ss 4120, Lauren Butler 2b 3100, Rachel Hoffman p 4244, Devynn Ireland c 4020, Karlie Lewis cf 3010, Sierra Jones 3b 3000, Victoria Ireland 1b 3000, Raeleigh Redden lf 2000, Macala Leigey rf 3000. TOTALS: 29 4 9 4.
Score by Innings
Bellefonte 000 202 1 – 5 7 2
Clearfield 000 130 0 – 4 9 1
E – Cooper, Menna; Hoffman. LOB – Bellefonte 3; Clearfield 8. 2B – Cooper, Ripka, Confer, Linn; Hoffman 2. HR – Hoffman 2. Sac – Capparelle; Jones. SB – Capparelle; Vanderburgh. CS – Vanderburgh (by Cooper).
Bellefonte – Baney 4-1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K; Bernier 2-2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Clearfield – Hoffman 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
WP – Hoffman.
W – Bernier. L – Hoffman (1-3).
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|3/24||@ Central||0 – 10||0 – 1|
|3/25||@ Central Mountain||ppd.||0 – 1|
|3/27||@ Huntingdon||8 – 4||1 – 1|
|3/31||@ Central Mountain||1 – 12||1 – 2|
|4/01||BALD EAGLE AREA||2 – 7||1 – 3|
|4/04||BELLEFONTE||ppd.||1 – 3|
|4/07||@ Tyrone||ppd.||1 – 3|
|4/08||@ Tyrone||ppd.||1 – 3|
|4/09||BELLEFONTE||4 – 5||1 – 4|
|4/24||@ Bald Eagle Area|
|5/05||@ Penns Valley|