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Lady Raiders battle but fall to Dragons

By Kenny Varner

BELLEFONTE – Sporting a 9-1 record in the Mountain League, the Bellefonte Lady Raiders softball team went up against second place holder Central in a battle for the top standing in the ML.
Central boasted a league record of 8-2 going into the contest.
The Lady Raiders went into the contest with their ace hurler Tara Baney taking the mound against the Dragons hurler Dylan Claycomb on Tuesday night at O’Leary field in Bellefonte.
In the end, the Dragons had too much fire power for the Lady Raiders as Central won 5-2.
However, like the sign of a true fighting champion, the Lady Raiders fought to the bitter end as they left the bases loaded before going down in the seventh.
Claycomb picked up the win going the distance, striking out six.
Baney finished with a strong night at the plate posting a first inning triple and later in the contest hit a solo shot over the fence in center.
“I was very proud of them. I told them as what I want as a coach is for them to put us into position to win games and they did so they hung in there, scored a run or two there and that’s all you can ask as a coach, Bellefonte manager Fred Caldwell said. “I thought we had some good line drives and not a lot of pop flies that’s something that has been a problem for us. But we have gotten much better at that. It was a tough game. Central is a very good team and we knew that coming in. They are a very solid team and there isn’t an easy out in that line up. So I’m proud the way they played and I thought they did well.”
A two home run sixth inning proved to be the clinching runs the Lady Dragons would need down the stretch to hold on for the win.
Going into the inning leading 3-1, Central’s clean up hitter Tierney Fernandes launched a high flying shot that easily cleared the left field fence.
Two batters later, teammate Cam Feathers sent a line shot over the left field line to up the lead to 5-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Baney got the Lady Raiders one run closer to a comeback as she blasted a solo shot, making it 5-2.
The Bellefonte defense kept the Dragons off the board in the final inning and gave its offense one last chance to cone from behind.
Things didn’t look good at the start of the Bellefonte seventh as the first two batters went down to consecutive ground outs to second.
Taylor Kerr kept the game alive as she hustled out a bunt single.
Mallorie Smith kept things alive as she hustled out a single that went into shallow left.
With Baney standing at the plate, the Dragons decided to intentionally walk her to load the bases for Alexis Wetzler. Wetzler walked in Kerr, cutting it to 5-3. That would be as close as the Lady Raiders would get as Central was able to get the last out.
But it could be declared a moral victory for the Lady Raiders as they refused to go down without a fight.

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