COCHRANTON — It’s 60 feet from third base to home plate on a softball field.
Yet, there were times during Saturday’s games at the Section 1 Junior League tournament in Cochranton that the crucial distance from third to home seemed miles away.
Twice in two games yesterday a big seventh-inning comeback attempt stalled out at third base, the game-tying run stranded.
First, it happened to the Cochranton All-Stars, as they fell short against St. Marys 7-6 in the tournament’s winner’s bracket final.
Then, Cochranton was on the other end of such a decision in the loser’s bracket final, as Corry’s game-tying run withered at third in the bottom of the seventh. Cochranton got out of there with an 8-7 win.
After all those frayed nerves, the Section 1 title will be determined today. Unbeaten St. Marys will take on Cochranton at 1 p.m. The if-necessary game would follow.
“I’m proud of my girls. They played well,” said Cochranton coach Jim Sokol. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow with St. Marys. It can go either way here. You have to play a really good caliber of softball in this tournament. I’m just happy that we got the win and that we’re moving on.”
The St. Marys-Cochranton game started in the top of the third inning with St. Marys already leading 3-1. The two teams had tried playing the game on Friday but were rained out a couple innings in.
After play resumed, Cochranton got a run back in the bottom of the third when Taytum Jackson and Megan Heim hit back-to-back doubles, Heim’s scoring Jackson.
However, St. Marys started padding its lead from there. In the fourth, Lindsey Reiter and Julia Jones both singled and scored to make it a 5-2 game.
St. Marys then brought home two more runs in the fifth to make it 7-2. Lydia Anderson and Shannon Kaiser both singled and scored in the inning.
Cochranton wasn’t done battling, however. In the bottom of the fifth, Devyn Sokol led off the frame with a single and Kaylin Rose Walked. Then Jackson slugged a double to left field — her third two-bagger of the game — to bring both runners in and make it a 7-4 contest.
“I never had any doubt in my girls,” said coach Sokol. “We’re very confident in what they can do.”
Finally in the bottom of the seventh, Devyn Sokol (who would go 3-for-4 for the game) and Rose (2-for-3) both singled and scored to cut it to 7-6. And Cochranton had the bases loaded with one out.
However, Jones, St. Marys’ pitcher, and the defense behind her managed to get the next two batters out, escaping from the jam and advancing straight to the title round.
Cochranton, on the other hand, had to shake it off and get back to work against Corry a short time later.
And this game played out a lot like the St. Marys game.
First, Cochranton built itself a lead. Rose singled and scored on a groundout by Jackson in the first quarter.
Then Zoe Hansen led off the second inning with a double. And Chelsey Freyermuth eventually got her home with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
In the third, Devyn Sokol led off with an infield single to short. And Jackson plated her with a base knock to left. That made it 3-0.
Cochranton then put across two more runs in the fourth. Freyermuth and Katie Ewing drew walks. And Rose clubbed a double to right-center to score both runners.
That’s when Corry got busy on its comeback attempt. The team made it 5-2 with a couple runs in the bottom of the fourth. Kiran Bugbee had the big hit, belting a two-run single to center.
Cochranton got a little more insurance with a three-run sixth inning. Lili Douglas led it off with a single to second. Rose drew a one-out walk.
Jackson notched her third RBI of the game with a groundout to score Douglas. Then Heim doubled to left-center to score Rose. And Hansen — who had a 2-for-3 outing against Corry — singled to right to plate Heim. It was 8-2.
But not for long. Corry got one run back the sixth thanks to a single by pinch hitter Haylee Brewer.
Then, Corry went on a tear in the bottom of the seventh. Makenzi Lewis and Alex Dyne dropped back-to-back bloop singles into the outfield. A dropped pop-up in front of the plate allowed Lewis to score.
Then an RBI single by Olivia Jackson and a two-run double by Alyssa Burlew made it 8-7. And Berlew was standing on third base after her hit was mishandled in the outfield.
However, Cochranton pitcher Devyn Sokol coaxed the next batter into a ground ball to third. Freyermuth scooped it and threw to first just in time to record the out.
Cochranton had survived to play another day.
“Proud of my girls,” said coach Sokol. “They played well in both games. We’ll see what happens (today) with St. Marys.”