By Lisa Byers
April 18, 2013 7:00 a.m. GUYS MILLS —
Down two runs going into the third inning, Cochranton head coach Mark McGuire gathered his team behind its dugout and implored the Lady Cardinals to have a big inning.
“This is it,” McGuire said. “Now is the time. We need to score some runs.”
At the time, what McGuire was hoping for was to at least cut into the team’s 2-0 deficit. The Lady Cardinals did that and more.
Carli Gledhill drew a one-out walk and Abby Clulow, Mackenzie Hawley, Sam Kinter, Katy Dunn and Natalie Brock followed with successive singles to give Cochranton a 4-2 lead.
That wound up being all the Cardinals would need as they held on for the 4-2 victory to improve to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in Region 3. Maplewood fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the region.
“I think coming out here was tough,” said Gledhill. “We knew this was going to be competition. We lost to Cambridge (Springs). They beat Cambridge.
“So we knew this game was important. We started off with a tough inning, but we put that behind us. We all have the confidence to go up and hit and fortunately we were able to string a few together.”
Maplewood took the lead in the first inning.
Emily Merritt led off the bottom half of the frame with a double. She scored on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Molly Bernoski that was misplayed by the Cardinals’ defense.
Bernoski advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Madalyn Nicols and went to third on another fielding error by the Cardinals on a grounder off the bat of Caitlyn Hartman. Bernoski scored on an RBI groundout from Abby Sansom to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
“We were playing nervous,” McGuire said. “And rightfully so. First of all, there are rivalries. It’s Maplewood. They are good. We’re friends with most of them. They’ve played ball with each other. You add all those things up and that’s what you get.”
But somehow the Cardinals were able to get over it pretty quick.
After a scoreless second, the Cardinals went to work. Gledhill set the table by working a walk on a 3-2 count. Clulow found a hole on the right side and Hawley punched the ball up the middle to load the bases.
Kinter followed with another shot up the middle to score Gledhill. Dunn singled home Clulow and Hawley, and Brock helped her cause with an RBI single scoring Kinter.
“Things got a little bit lax there for a while,” Maplewood coach Hannah Parker said. “They were really hitting the ball and we weren’t hitting spots like we should have been hitting. But otherwise, we played a good defensive game … They just hit the ball.”
Cochranton finished the game with 10 hits. Kinter finished the game 3-for-4 with a run, RBI and a double. Clulow and Brock also had two hits each.
On the mound, Brock, again, was solid. She allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
For the Tigers, Merritt was the lone player with more than one hit. She was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t,” Parker said. “They had five hits in one inning and we had five for the game. Back to the grind (today).”
That’s the key. The Tigers cannot panic with a very tight Region 3 title race brewing.
“We were just talking about region titles because that was one of their goals,” Parker said. “It means nothing, because honestly any team can go out (today) and you could have the exact same result or an upset. I don’t even check my phone after a game, because every time I check my phone you get a surprise.
“You just never know what is going to happen on any given day in this region.”