Softball 101 – Lesson one: When you have a chance, put a good team away.
On a rare sunny afternoon is Sugarcreek, the Garaway Pirates built an early 8-2 lead over a new Inter-Valley Conference South rival, Claymont. After a seven-run outburst over the first two innings, the Lady Pirates began to leave runners on the bases. Had they kept the offense rolling, the game could have ended after five innings. Instead of Garaway putting away the Mustangs, Claymont made Garaway pay a steep price.
Softball 101 – Lesson two: Good teams never give up.
Claymont’s Regan Brown delivers the eventual game-winning hit for the Mustangs who beat Garaway 13-9 pic.twitter.com/nvDrU7C6gX
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) April 12, 2018
Down 8-2 heading into the fifth inning, Claymont began chipping away at what seemed to be an insurmountable Lady Pirate lead. The Mustangs scored one in the fifth and three more in the sixth, closing the gap to 8-6.
The dormant Lady P’s offense finally woke back up in the sixth and appeared to be back on track. A quick score put Garaway back up 9-6 with runners on second and third with one out. However, Mustangs pitcher Mallory Wolf picked up a pair of pop-ups to end the Pirate threat, and that was huge for the young Mustangs club that was getting hungrier for a win with every out. Holding the Pirates to a lone run would turn out to be key to what was about to transpire in the seventh inning as Claymont rallied to plate seven runs in a 13-9 upset over Garaway.
“What a game,” Claymont head coach John Dupke said. “Garaway is an incredible program, and we knew we had our work cut out for us. I was so proud of our kids for never quitting and showing the heart to battle back. You can’t coach that. It is a heart thing, and we showed we can fight. We kept chipping away, and because we are extremely young, games like this go a long way in building our confidence and showing that we can compete with great teams.”
Garaway came out on fire to start the game. Back-to-back singles by Cassy Donaldson and Kallie Regula got the Pirate offense going in the bottom of the first. Kassidy Reidenbach sacrificed each runner up a base, and Maddie Steiner lined a double down the first-base line to put Garaway up 2-0. After a line shot out by Zoe Johnson, Chelsi Rothacher poked in a single for another Garaway run. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Wolf picked up a big strikeout to end the inning.
“We had plenty of opportunities to close this game out, and we didn’t get it done,” Garaway head coach Dennis Koshmider said. “Give them credit. They kept coming, but we made too many mistakes and missed too many opportunities, and that allowed them to gain some confidence and get back into the game. We enabled them to get that momentum to come back.”
Claymont picked up an unearned run in the top of the second to make it 3-1, but the Lady P’s responded in a big way.
Sarah Billman led off the bottom of the second, reaching on an error. A single by Mya Gee and a Donaldson bunt moved the runners over, and Kallie Regula followed with a blooper infield single to drive in courtesy runner Emma Gee. After a strike-out, Steiner came up clutch again, this time with an RBI single. Zoe Johnson drove in two more runs when she ripped a double to deep center field, and the Pirates were now up 7-1.
Claymont responded with a double from Allie Edwards to start the third inning. Regan Brown singled Edwards home to cut the Pirate lead to 7-2.
Garaway got a two-out rally going in the bottom of the third. Gee and Donaldson posted back-to-back singles, and Regula drove in Gee when she lined a single up the middle.
After a quiet fourth inning, Claymont began to chip away at the Pirate lead. Madison Garrett led off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. The extra base would prove to be crucial as a Garrett was able to score after a pair of ground outs, and Claymont was down 8-3.
The sixth inning would be the one that would give the Mustangs hope.
After a quick ground out, Garaway booted a routine grounder. From that point on the Mustang offense went on a tear. Trinity Hill singled. Micaiah Stemple doubled in a run. Garrett singled in a run. Edwards walked, and then Brown singled in a run. By the end of the inning the Pirates were clinging to an 8-6 lead.
The struggles for Garaway continued in the bottom of the inning. Regula led off with a single and later scored on another single by Maddie Steiner, her fourth RBI of the day. Johnson laced a double to center, but the Pirates were unable to plate another run, the inning ending when Claymont threw out a runner at home, then gunned down Donaldson trying for second for a double play.
Then came the seventh, an inning that was catastrophic for Garaway, jubilant for Claymont.
The inning started with an easy pop-up to the catcher Sarah Billman. Paige Rossi then drew a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. A slow roller from the next batter turned into an error. With runners on first and third, Pirate pitcher Kassidy Reidenbach picked up another out with a pop-up to short. The Mustangs were down to their last out with number-nine hitter Micaiah Stemple at the plate. Stemple swung at a wild pitch for strike number three but reached base safely when it eluded Billman. Still looking for that last out, the Lady Pirates got just what they needed. Reidenbach induced a routine grounder to short, but after what looked to be apparent runner interference, everyone was safe, and the Mustangs were still alive and only down two runs.
Allie Edwards drew a bases-loaded walk to cut the lead to one. At this point the Mustangs had sent seven batters to the plate and still had not registered a hit. That all changed with the next two batters. Regan Brown lined a single to left center, the ball skipping past the Pirates’ outfield, allowing three runs to score, giving the Mustangs a 11-9 lead.
“I just knew we had to get a hit,” Brown said of her critical at-bat. “I have had game-winners before, but none more exciting than this one because nobody was expecting us to do this.”
Here is Samone Sheppard reacting after her seventh inning dinger that helped Claymont upend Garaway pic.twitter.com/zNvjU4Vc2j
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) April 12, 2018
Samone Sheppard followed with a two-run blast to put the Mustangs up 13-9 to cap off the Mustangs’ incredible comeback.
“I kind of knew it was over the fence as soon as I hit it,” Sheppard said. “She (Reindenbach) throws so hard that when you square something up, it goes a long way. I think the main thing is that this gives us a lot of confidence that we can compete because Garaway is a really good team.”
Koshmider said his team had a solid week of practice in focusing on the mental part of the game. In defeating a tough Harrison Central club in what he said was a great game in which his team played very well in all aspects, he was expecting it to carry over.
“Our youth and inexperience kind of reared its ugly head today,” Koshmider said. “These are the types of things we will have to learn to battle through to become a better team.”
Claymont improved to 5-2 while Garaway fell to 4-2.