By Lisa Byers
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS —
Camryn Schmidt crushed a deep fly ball to center field that looked as though it might have enough to sail over the fence and give Cambridge Springs a 2-1 lead. But there, again, was Maplewood center fielder Laurel Smith to make the running catch just a few feet in front of the fence.
“Find the grass. My goodness,” Schmidt said as she returned to the Blue Devils’ dugout.
Just 24 hours earlier, the Lady Blue Devils had little trouble finding the open field in a 10-5 win over Saegertown that Maplewood coach Hannah Borkovich stopped to watch in preparation for Thursday’s game.
“We came and watched their game with Saegertown (Wednesday),” Borkovich said. “And it was the total opposite. They were hitting outfield shot after outfield shot. So (Thursday) coming in we told our outfielders, ‘Listen, you’re going to be running.’ And with the wind and everything, I knew there would be some errors, but it seemed that we found it a couple more times than they did, which made or broke the game.”
The Tigers made a number of sensational catches in the outfield to keep the Blue Devils’ offense in check setting up a thrilling 3-2 victory in Region 3 softball action at Cambridge Springs High School.
Maplewood moved to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in Region 3. Cambridge Springs dropped to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the region.
Cambridge Springs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. Amanda White drew a one-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Maplewood wound up tying it up in the second. Alyssa Proper hit a leadoff single. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lexi Frazier, stole third and scored on a bunt single by Savannah Phillips.
That is where the score remained until the sixth inning.
Both teams had opportunities to add runs. Maplewood had three of its big catches in the outfield to keep the leadoff batter off the basepaths. The catch by Smith was particularly big with Kiersten Skelton and Mackenzie Turner following with back-to-back singles.
The Devils made the Tigers pay for a couple of their defensive mistakes in the sixth inning. White reached on an error to start the inning. She was eventually retired on a fielder’s choice by Kayla Parkin. MacKayla Kurt, running for Parkin, advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and scored the go-ahead run on a hit by Amy King that was misplayed in the outfield.
With Maplewood fielding a roster of primarily underclassmen and first-year players, game over, right? Not exactly.
The Tigers came roaring back in the seventh inning and were able to find the holes neither team had been able to earlier in the contest. Rebecca Worley and Phillips reached to start off the seventh for the Tigers. Worley was retired on a fielder’s choice by Mady Nicols that put runners at the corners for Maplewood with one out.
Ruth Fultz loaded them up with an infield single that was just out of the reach of shortstop McKayla Zilhaver. Smith followed with a hard hit ball up the middle that richocheted off the glove of an outstretched Parkin driving in Phillips and Nicols for a 3-2 Maplewood lead.
Cambridge had its leadoff batter on third base with no outs in the seventh inning, but couldn’t plate the run.
“I’ve got to give props to that centerfielder for Maplewood,” Cambridge Springs coach Angie Mumford said. “She made some catches that robbed us of some hits. It was like, ‘Wow.’ She did a good job and they had some timely hits.
“We had some unforseen things happen like the infield is in and the ball goes off the pitcher’s glove and back and scores two runs. What are you going to do?”
Fultz had a big day at the plate for Maplewood. She was 4-for-4 with two doubles. Breanna Scott took the win on the mound, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Skelton had two hits for the Spa.