Meadville Tribune

May 15, 2013

H.S. SOFTBALL: Two-run sixth lifts Saegertown in Region 3 battle

By Pete Chiodo
Meadville Tribune

COCHRANTON — With the playoffs looming, Saegertown head softball coach Mark McKissock hoped to get his girls an early taste of that intense postseason atmosphere.

That’s just what the Panthers got on Tuesday against Cochranton. It was a well-pitched, sharply-defended, nip-and-tuck contest. And in the end it was Saegertown pulling it out 2-1 over the Cardinals.

“Cochranton played a great game,” said McKissock. “They were fired up and ready to roll. They had everything to lose, you know. They were fighting for their playoff lives. It was a great game. ... It was a great warm-up for the postseason.”

The win improves Saegertown’s record to 13-3 on the season and 7-0 in Region 3. The team has already clinched the Region 3 championship and an automatic berth into the District 10 playoffs.

Cochranton dropped to 8-6 overall and 2-6 in the league. The team’s playoff picture is, at the moment, unclear.

“There’s still a possibility,” said Cardinals head coach Mark McGuire. “But a win (on Tuesday) would have helped that.”

Still, even though they couldn’t hold on for the win, McGuire said he was proud of his team’s effort.

“More than that,” he said. “It was a great battle against a great team. I couldn’t be prouder of that group. They played hard.”

Cochranton pitcher Natalie Brock and the Cardinals’ defense managed to keep Saeger-town scoreless through the first five innings. During that stretch, Brock allowed just one base hit — a double by Lexi Palmer in the fourth. And the Cards’ defense were error-free, helping Brock out of a couple dangerous jams.

“(Brock) pitched a whale of a game,” said McKissock.

“(Brock) has thrown awesome all year,” said McGuire. “Her numbers are as good as anybody’s. She just doesn’t have the wins to show for it.”

Cochranton claimed a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Carly Gledhill led off the frame with a single. She moved to second on a follow-up single by Mackenzie Hawley, then made it to third on a sacrifice bunt by Abby Clulow. Natalie Brock then brought Gledhill home with a sac fly to center field.

That lead held until the sixth. In that inning Saegertown wouldn’t be denied.

With one out, Arianna Hanley arched a blooper into shallow left field that she was able to stretch into a double. She then advanced to third on a wild pitch.

One out later, Palmer brought Hanley home with a single to second base. The fielder, Clulow, made a nice diving stop on the ball, but couldn’t roll over in time to make the throw to first to get Palmer, so the inning continued.

The next batter, Courtney Lilly, slapped one over the glove of the third baseman, Hawley. The ball was then misplayed in the outfield, allowing Palmer to scurry home to score the go-ahead run.

Cochranton looked to get that run back in the bottom of the sixth. Brock led it off with a line-drive single to center field. Sam Kinter moved courtesy runner Katelyn Neff to second with a sac bunt.

Kaitlynn Dunn then hit a grounder to shortstop Becca Siple. And Siple, first baseman Elizabeth Lilly and third baseman McKenna Morian completed an perfect series of plays to nab Dunn at first and then double-up Neff at third.

“The double play in the sixth inning, the 6-3-5 double play was huge,” said McKissock. “That was a championship team play. You make those kind of plays, you win games.”

Hanley then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to end the ball game. She earned the win, allowing one run on five hits with one K and one walk.

Brock took the loss allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits. She walked one and struck out two.

That’s just what the Panthers got on Tuesday against Cochranton. It was a well-pitched, sharply-defended, nip-and-tuck contest. And in the end it was Saegertown pulling it out 2-1 over the Cardinals.

“Cochranton played a great game,” said McKissock. “They were fired up and ready to roll. They had everything to lose, you know. They were fighting for their playoff lives. It was a great game. ... It was a great warm-up for the postseason.”

The win improves Saegertown’s record to 13-3 on the season and 7-0 in Region 3. The team has already clinched the Region 3 championship and an automatic berth into the District 10 playoffs.

Cochranton dropped to 8-6 overall and 2-6 in the league. The team’s playoff picture is, at the moment, unclear.

“There’s still a possibility,” said Cardinals head coach Mark McGuire. “But a win (on Tuesday) would have helped that.”

Still, even though they couldn’t hold on for the win, McGuire said he was proud of his team’s effort.

“More than that,” he said. “It was a great battle against a great team. I couldn’t be prouder of that group. They played hard.”

Cochranton pitcher Natalie Brock and the Cardinals’ defense managed to keep Saeger-town scoreless through the first five innings. During that stretch, Brock allowed just one base hit — a double by Lexi Palmer in the fourth. And the Cards’ defense were error-free, helping Brock out of a couple dangerous jams.

“(Brock) pitched a whale of a game,” said McKissock.

“(Brock) has thrown awesome all year,” said McGuire. “Her numbers are as good as anybody’s. She just doesn’t have the wins to show for it.”

Cochranton claimed a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Carly Gledhill led off the frame with a single. She moved to second on a follow-up single by Mackenzie Hawley, then made it to third on a sacrifice bunt by Abby Clulow. Natalie Brock then brought Gledhill home with a sac fly to center field.

That lead held until the sixth. In that inning Saegertown wouldn’t be denied.

With one out, Arianna Hanley arched a blooper into shallow left field that she was able to stretch into a double. She then advanced to third on a wild pitch.

One out later, Palmer brought Hanley home with a single to second base. The fielder, Clulow, made a nice diving stop on the ball, but couldn’t roll over in time to make the throw to first to get Palmer, so the inning continued.

The next batter, Courtney Lilly, slapped one over the glove of the third baseman, Hawley. The ball was then misplayed in the outfield, allowing Palmer to scurry home to score the go-ahead run.

Cochranton looked to get that run back in the bottom of the sixth. Brock led it off with a line-drive single to center field. Sam Kinter moved courtesy runner Katelyn Neff to second with a sac bunt.

Kaitlynn Dunn then hit a grounder to shortstop Becca Siple. And Siple, first baseman Elizabeth Lilly and third baseman McKenna Morian completed an perfect series of plays to nab Dunn at first and then double-up Neff at third.

“The double play in the sixth inning, the 6-3-5 double play was huge,” said McKissock. “That was a championship team play. You make those kind of plays, you win games.”

Hanley then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to end the ball game. She earned the win, allowing one run on five hits with one K and one walk.

Brock took the loss allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits. She walked one and struck out two.