HYDE — After having a pair of leads erased, the Clearfield Area High School softball team rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning with Makeeli Redden’s long single plating Aspen Bishop for a 5-4 walk-off win over backyard rival Curwensville at the Bison Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.
The Lady Tide had gone ahead 4-3 with two runs in the sixth on a walk, singles by Ariel Zattoni and Lauren Tozer and a Lady Bison miscue.
The visitors would have expanded the margin in the top of the seventh except for the Lady Bison’s perfectly-executed relay from right fielder Lindsay Hand to shortstop Brooke Cline to catcher Kyra Mollura that cut down Kayley Harnett trying to score from first base on Bailey Bloom’s double up the right center alley.
“You practice those plays and you hope you never have to use them, but in that situation we hit the right cutoff and our infielder with the best arm made a great throw,” Lady Bison coach Bob Lewis said. “It was a BB, and we got a very good runner.”
Lady Tide coach Allen Leigey cited that play and an ensuing decision he didn’t follow throw with as keys to a heart-breaking outcome that was a blow to his team’s playoff hopes.
“I should have held the runner, and I didn’t. I pushed the envelope,” he explained. “Then, my gut going into that seventh was going back to my original pitcher, and I talked myself out of it. I just thought that would have been a different look. I was determined that’s what we were doing, and I changed my mind at the last second.
“So, I take the blame for that. I let that one get away.”
Clerissia Cole, who had held the Lady Bison to two hits by Erica Hanes after bailing starter Rachel LeGars out of a second-inning jam, wound up the losing hurler when the Lady Bison pulled out only their second win in 16 games.
A misplay on Makayla Ross’ grounder made the first run unearned, pinch-runner Maddie Lewis scampering around the sacks when Bishop ripped a double into the left field corner.
“The error hurt them, but Bishop’s hit was very big, getting us to even,” Lewis said. “And then her getting to third base (on the throw to the plate), we were sitting in the driver’s seat at that point.”
Bishop, who stayed at third on Kirstin Norman’s bunt single to the left side, could have strolled home on Redden’s game-winning hit.
“At first, I thought it was going to go out,” Lewis described Redden’s blast to deep left field. “Makeeli struggled early in the year, but she has made adjustments and has been swinging a better bat in practice. So, it was really nice to see her step into that situation and cash in on that moment for us.”
Clearfield’s comeback rewarded Fedder with her second ‘W’ for her third complete game in as many days, allowing seven hits, two walks and two earned runs.
“She had another gutsy effort,” Lewis said. “She mixes her speeds and she’s locating. She was really, really sharp in the first four innings.”
All four of Fedder’s whiffs were posted the first time through the Lady Tide lineup and, aided by a double play she initiated in the fourth inning, had faced only one batter over the minimum before Curwensville (5-10) squared matters at 2-2 with two outs in the fifth.
Lauren Tozer walked, and pinch-runner Alex Zattoni alertly dashed to third base after Keisha Maines beat out a slow roller to the left side. Pinch-hitter Makayla Warren then slashed an RBI single to right, and Maines came all the way around when the ball was misplayed.
Leigey said, “I told her, ‘This is what you’ve been practicing for all year. This is your moment. Just take it and run with it. I couldn’t ask for more from her.”
Only Cline’s lunging, tumbling grab of a pop-up behind the circle kept the Lady Bison from falling behind.
“That play was huge,” Leigey noted. “We get two runs there because Hannah (Dixon) already was at third base and would have scored, too.”
Cline, whose recent hot streak boosted her batting average to .500, had staked the Lady Bison to a quick lead with a leadoff home run to dead center, but they emerged from a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the second with just one unearned run off LeGars when the Lady Tide turned two grounders into forceouts at the plate.
A great catch by Lady Tide left fielder Ariel Zattoni prevented the Lady Bison from possibly breaking the non-league game wide open in the third.
After Ross cracked a double to right center, Bishop lined a single to left and moved into scoring position with a stolen base.
Enter Cole, who induced a foul pop-up before Redden belted a hooking drive to left that Zattoni ran down.
“When she’s focused, she’s money in the outfield,” Leigey said. “She was my original center-fielder, and then we shuffled things around to try to get her where more balls are hit.”
“There were opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on early,” Lewis said. “We had the momentum with Brooke’s home run. If we would have got a clutch hit or two, we could have really opened things up.
“But we let them hang around, and they’re a gutsy team. They’re gonna fight to the end. And that’s what they did.”
Even after Clearfield regained a 3-2 advantage in the lower fifth on two of Curwensville’s six miscues and Redden’s liner to center for a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Tide answered in the top of the sixth, but the Lady Bison countered in the do-or-die bottom of the seventh to pin the tough loss on Cole, who surrendered one earned run and five hits with no walks over four-plus innings.
“When Clerissia came in, she battled,” Leigey said. “She kept them at bay. She was just running out of gas there at the end, and that was my fault. I should have just been the coach and said, hey, we’ve gotta go back to Rachel. We’ve been doing it that way most of the year.”
Lewis was happy to see Fedder pick up the win.
“I’m very, very proud of her,” he said. “You ask a girl to throw that many innings (21) in that many days, that’s tough. She‘s worked hard to get to this point, and she‘s really becoming a pitcher. It‘s nice to see her do well.”
Both coaches praised the effort put forth by their players.
“It was a great ball game,” Lewis said. “I was pretty proud of how the kids didn’t give up and fought to the end. You could tell they were frustrated with some of their at-bats, but they got the job done and that’s what matters. It was nice to see them, in the last inning, make things happen.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a win, and we’ve gotta use that for momentum to get through the rest of the season.
“And credit to (Curwensville). They battled and battled, and we were expecting that.”
Leigey said, “I told my girls we played about as well as we played all year, as far as getting some hits in good spots and making plays when we had to make plays. We messed up a couple, but the people who messed up came through when they got to bat.
“No loss is a good loss, but for this team, this was a decent loss because we made them earn it, and we competed. That’s all I ask, just compete from the get-go to the end. And I think they did that.”
Redden, Bishop, Norman and Hanes had two hits apiece for the Lady Bison, while Maines had two for the Lady Tide.
Both teams are in action again Thursday afternoon, Clearfield at Philipsburg-Osceola in a Mountain League game at 4 o’clock and Curwensville at home against Kane in a Northern Allegany League Small School Division game at 4:15.
CURWENSVILLE — 4
Hannah Dixon 3b 4000, Kayley Harnett ss 4010, Bailey Bloom c 4010, Camryn Richards rf 4000, Chloe Tubbs dp 2000, Kelsi Bumbarger pr 0100, Ariel Zattoni lf 3110, Lauren Tozer 1b 2011, Alex Zattoni pr 0100, Keisha Maines 2b 3120, Anne Hoover cf 2000, Mikayla Warren ph 1011, Rachel LeGars p (flex) 0000, Clerissia Cole p (flex) 0000. TOTALS: 29 4 7 2.
CLEARFIELD — 5
Brooke Cline ss 4111, Erica Hanes dp 4020, Abby Fedder p 4000, Makayla Ross 1b 4110, Maddie Lewis pr 0100, Aspen Bishop lf 4120, Kirstin Norman 3b 3021, Kate Lansberry ph 1000, Laura Lanager pr 0000, Kyra Mollura c 3000, Karly Rumsky cf 3000, Lindsay Hand rf (flex) 0000. TOTALS: 33 5 10 4.
Score by Innings
Curwensville 000 022 0 – 4 7 6
Clearfield 110 010 2 – 5 10 4
E – Dixon 2, Harnett 3, Tozer; Cline, Norman 2, Hand. DP – Clearfield 1 (Fedder, Cline and Ross). LOB – Curwensville 6; Clearfield 11. 2B – Bloom; Hanes, Ross, Bishop, Norman. HR – Cline (1). SF – Redden. SB – Bishop, Redden.
Curwensville – LeGars 2+ IP (faced 2 batters in 3rd), 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K; Cole 4+ IP (faced 4 batters in 7th), 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.
Clearfield – Fedder 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
WP – Fedder (2-12). LP – Cole (3-5).
Umpires – Rob Murphy (plate) and Denny Koppenhaver (bases)