HYDE — After falling behind 4-0 through three innings, the Clearfield Area High School softball team roared back in the fourth and fifth innings and then outlasted Penns Valley 7-6 in Mountain League action at the Bison Sports Complex Thursday.
The Lady Bison concentrated seven of their nine hits in their scoring rallies and got a strong relief stint, with one blip, from Rachel Hoffman to halt a three-game slide with their second victory.
“We needed that, we really did,” second-year coach Bob Lewis said. “We’re starting to grow as a team. And it really was a team effort. Everybody contributed in some way, whether it was a sac fly or running the bases or a clutch hit. I’d say the whole team deserved this one.
“It’s really, really big for our confidence and our morale right now.”
How the Lady Bison (2-4, 2-3 ML) won was important, for there have not been a lot of comeback victories in recent seasons.
Equally significant was prevailing in a squeaker.
Since Lewis took the reins, Clearfield’s record for one-run or two-run outcomes was 1-5 after Wednesday’s tough 5-4 loss to Bellefonte.
“It only took 24 hours to learn how to win a close game like that,” he pointed out. “I talked to them before the game, and I just told them, ‘We’ve got to come out and we’ve got to take it to them.’
“Unfortunately, it was being put on us early, and I went out for one of the conferences (in the circle) and I looked at the infielders and I said, ‘We’re down 4-0 but we’re gonna win this game.’ And they all looked me in the eye serious as could be, and they just nodded their heads like ‘Yes we are, yes we are, and we‘re gonna fight.’
“So, I’m very, very proud of them for that. They didn’t roll over and die.”
Penns Valley (0-4) had the upper hand going to the fourth inning because Emma Kubalack had allowed only one base runner, Karlie Lewis on a double, while striking out four the first time through the Clearfield lineup.
The Lady Rams got to Raeleigh Redden for single runs in the first frame on Ashley Struble’s double and Mackenzie Ironside’s single and the second frame on two hits and the only error in the game before threatening to turn it into a romp in the third.
With two down, Harley Hess looped a single into short right, Mikenna Lyons walked and Thom dropped a double just inside the left field line for two RBIs.
That’s when coach Lewis made the call to Hoffman in center field.
“I was looking at an opportunity to get Redden some time in the circle and give her some much needed experience because, after the Central Mountain game, she was a little bit down,” he said. “She threw better, but there was a moment where I thought we had to make the change if we were gonna stick around.”
Hoffman immediately chalked up the first of her eight strikeouts over 4-1/3 innings and added two more in the fourth.
Then, the Lady Bison bats came alive.
Lauren Butler ignited the rally with a soft single to center, Hoffman ripped a liner to center and Devynn Ireland’s attempted sacrifice bunt right in front of the plate resulted in a hit when the Lady Rams failed to cover first base.
Karlie Lewis’ sacrifice fly, a passed ball and Victoria Ireland’s big two-out-single up the middle made it 4-3.
After Hoffman struck out the side in the top of the fifth, the Lady Bison went right back to work with the bats.
Redden drilled a single past Kubalack and Megan Vanderburgh walked, prompting a pitching change for Penns Valley. Hess walked Butler to load the bases, and Hoffman tied the score with a sac fly to right.
Devynn Ireland drove in the go-ahead run with a single to center for her third multi-hit game in a row, and Butler scored on a wild pitch before Sierra Jones capped the outburst with a two-out blooper behind first base for what proved to be the winning marker.
That was because the Lady Rams made it very interesting by solving Hoffman for four hits in the sixth inning.
Ashley Struble socked a home run to left field for her third hit, Kayleigh Jones doubled for her third safety and Nikki Harbaugh singled to right center to make it a one-run game. Ironside also doubled, but Hoffman stranded the two Lady Rams in scoring position with another strikeout.
Coach Lewis was confident Hoffman could get the job done after working what he described as “seven hard innings” against Bellefonte.
“She may have been starting to labor a little but, but she’s a veteran pitcher and that’s what veteran pitchers do,” he said. “They step in when you need them the most and just get the outs that you need at the right moment. My hat’s off to her.”
In the seventh inning, Penns Valley had the tying run at second when Hess drew Hoffman’s lone walk and stole second base while the Clearfield senior was logging her final strikeout. Thom then lofted a high fly to short left that looked like trouble until Redden reached out to make a knee-high grab.
“I just walked away and said there must be a higher power watching over us, because I had just moved her from left center field to the line, and I was hoping I put her far enough over there because that girl had been slapping everything to left,” coach Lewis said. “And I honestly didn’t think she was gonna get it.
“The thing with Raeleigh is she could have easily hung her head after being pulled out of the circle, and she didn’t do that. She came through with hits and made a big defensive play. She’s starting to mature as a softball player.
“All of the kids are. That‘s a good, quality win for them.”
Penns Valley had six stolen bases, but when Hess headed for third and her fourth steal with Elizabeth Brooks at bat, Devynn Ireland fired a strike to Jones for the game-ending out.
The home stand continues all next week for the Lady Bison with games against Brookville Monday, Philipsburg-Osceola Wednesday and Central Thursday.
Mountain League – Bald Eagle Area 5-0, Philipsburg-Osceola 4-0, Bellefonte 4-1, Central 2-2, Clearfield 2-3, Huntingdon 1-4, Penns Valley 0-4, Tyrone 0-4.
PENNS VALLEY — 6
Ashley Struble ss 4231, Kayleigh Jones cf 4130, Nikki Harbaugh c 3011, Mackenzie Ironside 3b 4021, Emma Kubalack p-dp 4100, Harley Hess dp-p 3110, Mikenna Lyons rf 3100, Abby Thom lf 4022, Makayla Dreibelbis pr 0100, Elizabeth Brooks 1b 3000, Paige Myers 2b (flex) 0000. TOTALS: 32 6 12 5.
CLEARFIELD — 7
Megan Vanderburgh ss 3100, Lauren Butler 2b 3210, Rachel Hoffman cf-p 2111, Devynn Ireland c 3221, Justina Gaylor cr 0000, Karlie Lewis lf-cf 2011, Sierra Jones 3b 3011, Victoria Ireland 1b 3011, Macala Leigey rf 1000, Olivia Smith rf 1000, Molly Sartin ph 1000, Raeleigh Redden p-lf 3120. TOTALS: 25 7 9 5.
Score by Innings
Penns Valley 112 002 0 – 6 12 0
Clearfield 000 340 x – 7 9 1
E – Jones. PB – Harbaugh. LOB – Penns Valley 8; Clearfield 4. 2B – Struble, K. Jones, Ironside, Thom; Lewis, Redden. HR – Struble. Sac – Harbaugh. SF – Hoffman, Lewis. SB – K. Jones, Ironside, Hess 3, Lyons; Gaylor. CS – Hess (by D. Ireland).
Penns Valley – Kubalack 4+ IP (faced 2 batters in 5th), 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; Hess 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Clearfield – Redden 2-2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; Hoffman 4-1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K.
WP – Hess 1.
W – Hoffman (2-3). L – Kubalack.
Umpires – Kenny Knepp (plate) and Bud Brennen (bases).
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|
|4/10||PENNS VALLEY||7 – 6||2 – 4|
|4/24||@ Bald Eagle Area|
|5/05||@ Penns Valley|