The Saegertown softball team is improving.
That spells trouble for Region 3 and the rest of District 10.
The Lady Panthers had one of their most productive outings of the season on Monday. The result was a 9-2 win over Cochranton that allowed Saegertown to improve to 8-2 overall and take a two-game lead in the region at 4-0.
“We’re starting to feel like we’re getting better every game,” Saegertown coach Mark McKissock said. “That’s a good thing.
“Cochranton is a great team and they are well coached, so you just never know. And with the way the ball has been flying out of (Bertram Park) lately … You just never know.”
Saegertown was like a well-oiled machine yesterday. The Panthers went just one inning without putting a runner on the basepaths. The Panthers had a total of 13 baserunners for the game; nine of those scored.
In comparison, Cochranton had 14 baserunners … Two scored.
“That’s probably the best offensive day we’ve had,” Cochranton coach Mark McGuire said. “We just couldn’t buy the one we had to have. And they did. That was the difference in the game.
Cochranton did have plenty of opportunities to make yesterday’s affair interesting. But Saegertown’s senior-laden team and its tough-as-nails pitcher didn’t allow the Cardinals to take advantage.
Cochranton’s first opportunity came in the second inning.
Saegertown took a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of a two-run home run by Lexi Palmer. Cochranton cut into that lead on the first pitch of the second inning when Sam Kinter sent the ball over the center field fence.
Then with one out, Mackenzie Hawley hit a pop fly to shallow center field that was dropped by the Panthers’ second baseman. She advanced to second on a walk to Brittany Jackson. Hawley and Jackson then moved up a base on an infield fly, putting runners on second and third with two outs.
Ariel Smith flew out to deep center to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, Saegertown, again, scored three runs. This time it was Arianna Hanley driving the ball to the fence in right-center for a three-run inside-the-park home run.
Again, Cochranton responded.
Carli Gledhill got it started for the Cards with a single. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a single by Natalie Brock, giving Cochranton runners at the corners with one out. Two pop outs and the inning was over.
“My mentality personally is I have a large amount of faith on my team and our defense,” said Hanley, the Panthers’ starting pitcher, who threw six innings allowing two runs (both earned) on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. “I know that if I just get the ball in the strike zone and they hit it, our defense will take care of it.”
Cochranton did add a run in the fourth inning after Brock pitched a scoreless third.
It was Hawley once more who got it going. She drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on a pinch hit single by Kendra Nemeth. Smith followed with a single and with two outs Clulow drew a walk to load the bases. Fly ball to center field … trouble averted.
Cochranton also loaded the bases in the sixth inning. The inning ended on a pickoff attempt at first base. The runner at third broke for home on the throw to first and was thrown out at the plate.
“Somewhat it’s just luck and getting the hit when you want it,” McGuire said. “Not to take anything away from Saegertown. But sometimes that’s the difference. We get a couple of those hits and it’s an awful close ballgame.”
DiBartolomeo scored a run in the fourth inning for Saegertown. She also doubled and scored in the sixth. Becca Siple, too, scored in the sixth for the nine-run tally for the Panthers.
DiBartolomeo was 4-for-4 with four runs scored out of the leadoff spot. Hanley finished 3-for-3 out of the No. 2 hole and had four RBIs. Palmer was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Siple was also 2-for-3.
For the Cardinals, Brock was 2-for-3 and Smith were 2-for-3. Brock pitched all six innings. She allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 12 hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
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