The Lady Pirates softball team traveled to Dresden on Saturday, April 14 for a match-up with two of the top teams in the East District and came away with a well-earned split.
The Pirates faced Div. I Tri-Valley in game one. Tri-Valley came into the game with only one loss this season. In game two the Pirates matched up against undefeated Div. II River View. Early in the day it looked like Mother Nature would get three wins in the triangular. Fortunately the heavy storms stayed away. All three games saw light rain and wind gusts, which contributed to the overall scoring.
After a lackluster performance in the first game against Tri-Valley in which the Lady P’s were dumped 12-4, Garaway looked like a different team against River View.
Despite giving up three home runs that led to six Lady Bear runs, the Pirates were able to hang around and then win the game in dramatic fashion. A pair of home runs in the fourth inning put Riverview up 8-4, and the Lady Pirates were reeling, in position to drop a pair of games on the day.
Garaway has been leaning heavily on pitcher Kori Gutheridge over the past several games with ace pitcher Kassidy Reidenbach currently sidelined with an injury, so Gutheridge is getting a heavy dose of varsity pitching experience, having pitched a pair of complete games on Thursday and Friday.
“After going seven long innings in the earlier loss to Tri-Valley, it looked like she might be out of gas,” Garaway coach Dennis Koshmider said.
Instead, Gutheridge regrouped and her offense saved their best stuff for the final three innings of the game.
The fourth inning home runs by Riverview would turn out to be the last runs of the game with Gutheridge shutting down a strong Riverview offense. The Pirates offense was only getting started and began the trek to a comeback victory.
Garaway had taken an early 1-0 lead against Riverview. Zoe Johnson, who had a monster day at the plate, ripped a two-out triple down the right-field line. Maddie Steiner drove Johnson in with a line drive single that glanced off the third baseman’s glove.
Riverview snatched the lead in the second inning. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for Kelsie Williamson. Williamson lined a single to center to tie the game. Riverview took a 2-1 lead on a ground out from Claire Warschaur
Riverview put three more runs on the board in the third, courtesy of Bella Heddleson’s three-run bomb over the center-field fence. The home run gave Riverview a comfortable 5-1 lead.
Garaway came right back though with a matching three-run inning. Singles by Cassy Donaldson and Johnson along with a walk to Steiner loaded the bases with Pirates. Mya Gee hit a line shot to third base that was snagged for out number two. Gutheridge followed with a patient at-bat, drawing a walk to force in a run. Sarah Billman smashed a changeup into the left-center gap for a two-RBI double, cutting the Riverview lead to one run, 5-4.
The one-run Pirate deficit did not hold up for long. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Alyssa Thomas hit a solo home run. Peyton Werntz was hit by a pitch, bringing Heddleson to the plate again. Heddleson connected for another shot over the fence, and the Lady Bears were cruising with an 8-4 lead.
The Pirates offense responded with their own two-out rally. Kallie Regula lined a single to left field and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Johnson singled to center field, scoring Regula on a close play at the plate. Johnson moved over to second base on the throw. Steiner came up with another clutch single to bring in Johnson, cutting the Riverview lead to 8-6. Gee drew a walk; however, the Lady Bears were able to get out of the inning on a sharp ground out to third.
Gutheridge faced the top of the Riverview order in the fifth and sat them down in order.
Once again it was two-out magic that changed fortune for the Pirates in the bottom half of the fifth. After a pair of strike-outs from Riverview relief pitcher Peyton Werntz to start the inning, Rylee Wilhelm worked the count full before drawing a crucial walk. The walk turned out to be significant as lead-off hitter Donaldson came to the plate and deposited the first pitch over the left-field fence. The Pirates were tied but looking for more. Regula smashed a double into the left-field gap, but Werntz finally ended the inning, catching Johnson looking at strike three.
Riverview led off the sixth with a double by Alyssa Thomas. Thomas would get no further as Gutheridge shut down the next three batters.
Garaway had a golden opportunity to seize the lead in the bottom half of the sixth. Steiner led off with a single and moved to second on a Gee sacrifice bunt. Gutheridge drew a walk and was replaced on the bases by courtesy runner Karmella Stein. After a passed ball, the Pirates had runners at second and third, one out, and one hit away from a lead. Werntz battled back with a ground out and routine fly to center, thwarting the Pirates rally.
The only hit Riverview could muster in the seventh was off the leg of lead-off hitter Warschauer. The hit batter spoiled an otherwise perfect inning from Gutheridge, who pitched her strongest over the final three innings of her 14-inning day.
“We came to bat in the seventh with one goal in mind: to win it now,” Koshmider said.
Reidenbach came in as a pinch hitter and did her job, lashing a single up the middle and putting a runner on with no outs. Freshman speedster Jenna Shoup was inserted as a pinch runner, and Donaldson moved Shoup over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Regula drew a walk, bringing Johnson to the plate. Johnson, who already had three hits in the game, wasted no time and drilled a double to center. Shoup raced home well ahead of the throw to the plate as the Pirates walked off with the win.
“It was a great turnaround after looking flat in game one against Tri-Valley,” Koshmider said.
In the game versus Tri-Valley, Garaway took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning off an RBI double by Steiner. That lead immediately evaporated as Tri-Valley slammed the Pirates with seven runs in the bottom of the first. Poor Pirates defense and decision-making plagued the Pirates defense all game long.
Tri-Valley added four more runs in the third and one in the fourth to take a commanding 12-1 lead.
Garaway was two outs away from losing by a mercy, but a walk and a double from Maddie Steiner gave the Pirates hope of extending the game. A single from Donaldson and fielder’s choice by Gutheridge provided just enough offense to extend the game.
“In hindsight the turning point of the day came in the fifth inning,” Koshmider said.
Gutheridge ended up shutting down the Tri-Valley offense the rest of the game. Garaway picked up another run in the seventh on a double by Chelsi Rothacher.
“Despite the 12-4 loss, we entered game two against Rive View with a much better mindset,” Koshmider said. “We knew that if you take away the first inning, we had played right with a tough Tri-Valley team.”