By Pete Chiodo
UNION CITY —
Frank Snyder wasn’t sure what to expect of his team on Tuesday as it returned to Union City’s high school softball field for its first game since watching two teammates leave on stretchers following a scary collision in the outfield.
He wasn’t quite sure what to expect of himself either.
“When I came down to practice (Monday) I went to walk through that opening right there,” Snyder said, pointing to the gap between the backstop and the third base dugout. “Coach (Mike) Krause was standing right behind me and I turned around and said, ‘I can’t even walk through there.’ The last time I was standing right there was when (the collision) happened.’”
Turns out, Snyder had nothing to worry about at all. Freshman Brooke Chelton had his back just as she did Friday night as the two waited word at UPMC Hamot on the conditions of outfielders Morgan Burgess and Autumn Kinney.
Chelton, making the start in right field for the injured Kinney, hit a grand slam in the first inning and singled and scored in the third to lead Union City to a crucial 7-5 win over Saegertown.
“It is pretty special,” Snyder said. “I’m just about speechless. I’m shaking right now. I don’t even know what to say.”
The win avenged the Lady Bears’ worst loss of the season, a 13-4 defeat at the hands of the Panthers back on April 10. It also moves Union City into second place in Region 3 and a half-game in front of Saegertown for an at-large playoff berth.
The Bears are now 7-4 overall and 3-3 in Region 3. Saegertown is 6-7 overall and 3-4 in the region.
“Morgan and Autumn were both here with us (yesterday),” Snyder said. “They were here for the girls and the girls were here for them through the whole thing.
“We didn’t have a real good practice (Monday) because we were still worried about those two. They weren’t at practice with us, and we still weren’t sure what was going on. But to have them with us … Everyone just came together and we got a big region win.
“It can’t say more about what these girls are made out of.”
Union City’s lineup had to undergo a few changes for its game against Saegertown.
Carly Williams reassumed her duties as the Bears’ leadoff hitter and did her part, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Jena Chelton also found her way into the lineup — after playing in the flex position the majority of the season — and collected a base hit and laid down a sacrifice bunt that set up a big insurance run in the fifth inning.
Then there was the youngest Chelton.
Saegertown threatened to jump on the Bears early when Becca Siple lead off the game with a grounder to third that was misplayed and skipped into the outfield allowing Siple to slide into third. But the Bears got out of the inning unscathed.
They didn’t allow the Panthers to do the same in the bottom half of the inning.
Williams got things going for Union City with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt by Tori Migliaccio, Noelle Wienczkowski was hit by a pitch. An out later, Jordyn Kosienski legged out an infield hit to load the bases. Enter Chelton.
Chelton cleared the bags with a towering fly ball over the fence in left-center to give the Bears a 4-0 lead and spark a two-out rally that ended with an RBI single from Carrie Brown.
“We knew this was a big game and that we had to win,” Brooke Chelton said. “And going out as a team, we knew we had to play together. They are a really good team. But we had our ‘A’ game on, we tried hard and we came out with success.”
Saegertown did chip away at the Bears’ 5-0 first-inning lead by way of the long ball as well. Tori Eckart hit a two-run shot in the second and Jessica Tomiczek hit a solo shot in the third to pull the Panthers to within two (5-3).
The Bears tacked on another run in the third on an RBI single by Williams and answered a two-run fifth inning by the Panthers with another RBI single by Williams to keep Saegertown at bay.
“We’re not playing well now,” Saegertown coach Mark McKissock said. “We’re not getting hits when we need them. We don’t have anything in the gut right now.
“Our season is basically down to next Monday. That’s it.
“Hats off to Union City. They made plays. We didn’t.”
Union City pounded out 14 hits total. In addition to Williams and Brooke Chelton, Wienczkowski (2-for-3), Meghan Mongera (2-for-4) and Hayley Patchen (2-for-2) had multi-hit games.