By Lisa Byers
Conneaut has done the little things to improve its pitching, defense and hitting over the last two seasons.
But there is still one key ingredient missing in CASH’s repertoire: Confidence. According to Conneaut sophomore outfielder Kendra Miller, the Lady Eagles have struggled a bit believing they are good enough to battle with the best softball teams in Region 6.
That was until Thursday.
Conneaut had a 2-0 lead after two innings and put together a fierce rally in the seventh inning in a hardfought 10-5 loss to the Hornets at Conneaut Area Senior High School.
“I am very proud of them,” Conneaut coach Steph Baer said. “The last inning they didn’t give up. That’s a big step for us. A lot of times they roll over and play dead. But today, the last inning, we stuck it out and gave it a good run.”
That last inning rally could have been even bigger for the Lady Eagles, who are mathematically still in the running for a District 10 Class AAA playoff spot.
Going into the seventh, the Eagles trailed the Hornets (7-1, 6-1 Region 6) by just two runs (5-3). A two-run blast by Chelsea Marriott and three unearned runs in the top of the frame, though, provided a little more work for the Eagles, who entered their final at-bats down 10-3. But they didn’t bow down.
Marena Bates got the rally going with a leadoff single — her second hit of the game. Then the Eagles used one of their biggest assets: Speed.
Kristen Baker followed with a grounder to Hickory’s short stop Hannah Gallagher, who threw onto second in an attempt to get Bates. Bates beat the throw to give the Eagles runners at first and second with no outs. The Hornets tried to get Bates again, this time at third, on a grounder hit by Tori Urbas. Bates was safe when the throw to third pulled Mikhaila Layshock off the bag. Bases loaded.
Hickory picked up the first out on a strikeout. Then the Eagles went back to work. Becca Hazen got the job done this time with a ground ball to the left side of the infield. The Hornets attempted to get the out at home, but the throw was errant and rolled to the backstop allowing Bates and Baker to score.
“Hickory came at us strong the last time and we fell behind,” Miller said. “We wanted to come back at them this time. We knew we needed to hit, so we worked hard on that. And we did good today.”
The rally ended just a bit short.
“Today, they came out aggressive,” Baer said. “We just need to get them to play the same the first inning and the seventh inning throughout the entire game not just the beginning and the end. We’re getting there.”
Conneaut did jump on the Hornets first. Kayla Ordos reached on an error and scored on a double by Bates, and Bates came around to score on a single by Baker to put the Eagles up 2-0 through two innings. Hickory cut the lead in half with a solo home run by Gallagher in the third inning and took the lead with a three-run fourth.
Conneaut fell to 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Region 6.