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Wildcats hold Tigers at bay in the 10th, win 7-6


By Kenny Varner


COCOLAMUS – Despite being early in the season, Monday afternoon’s contest between Tri-Valley League rivals Greenwood and East Juniata brought with it a post-season-like atmosphere to the softball diamond as both teams fought tooth and nail to come out on top.

Neither wanted the game to end in the regular seven innings either as both teams fought back from deficits to send the game into the 8th, 9th and finally the 10th inning before it produced a victor.

Playing under the Inernational Rule scenerio where a player starts at second base when the game gets into the 10th. The Wildcats took advantage of that opportunity, plating three runs while holding the Tigers to two en route to the 7-6 nail biter.

“I am very pleased with the effort that we got,” Greenwood coach Tony Gantt said. “We didn’t always execute properly but the girls just kept fighting and battled back a couple time and kept scratching and clawing until we got what we wanted”

Leading the offensive explosion for the Greenwood was Amy Happenstaller, who went 4-for-5 on the day sparking the Wildcats in the early innings.

East Juniata also hit the ball well especially Maddie Plesce as she blasted a 2-run inside-the-park homerun in a four run fifth inning.

Picking up the win for the Wildcats was Brooke Louder who went the distance, allowing 11 hits, striking out three and allowed just one walk while opposing pitcher Allison Beaver also went the distance allowing 15 hits, striking out one while walking four.

Meghan Shilling and Lydia Hunter both finished the game with two hits in a losing cause.

Tied at four going into the 10th, Greenwood had first baseman Kiera Walton start at second base via the Inernational Rules.

Courtney Fleisher moved Walton over to third when she blasted a stand up double, putting runners immediately on second and third.

One batter later, the Wildcats took back over the lead when Kelsey Stemler stood tall and blazed a sliding triple, upping the score to 6-4 with no one out.

Stemler’s time on base was quick when she scored on an RBI fielders choice by Bree Paden giving her team the eventual winning run, 7-4.

With like most of the contest, each team had an answer for the other and East Juniata wasn’t going to go down quietly in their part of the 10th.

Starting the inning with Shelly Gabel on second, the Tigers had their top of the order coming to the plate.

With one out, Kasi Horning moved Gabel to third thanks to a simple single. Horning moved up on a stolen base, putting runners in scoring position.

Lydia Hunter posted an RBI single, allowing Gabel to score and put Horning to third. Hunter followed up with a stolen base of her own, putting the tying run up to second and putting the winning run at the plate.

Beaver did her part to continue the comeback, posting a single down as both Horning and Hunter rounded third.

Only one made it.

Hunter was caught at the plate by a clutch tag by catcher Nikki Willi, keeping the Tigers at bay at 7-6.

That would be all the Greenwood defense would need as it held on for the 7-6 victory.

“Its heartbreaking for the kids. It was one heck of a game. As far as what both teams did offensively and defensively, I thought it was a good game,” East Juniata coach Joe Schilling said. “It was a good match up and can’t wait to meet up with them again.

It was the visitors who drew first blood in the contest, posting its first run in the top of the first.

With one out, Maddie Pyle reached on an East Juniata miscue and then scored while sitting at second thanks to an RBI single by Happenstaller, making it 1-0.

Greenwood went up 2-0 in the fifth, setting the stage for the beginning of what would be the Tigers first comeback.

Lash started off the inning reaching on a Wildcat error. She moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Heintzelman.

Erin Heimbaugh sent a towering blast into centerfield, scoring Lash and putting herself on second.

Shelly Gabel followed up with a towering double of her own, tying the game at two when Heimbaugh cruised from second to home.

Plesce’s hustle and grit got her all the way home on yet another blast to the outfield, resulting in a 2-run RBI homerun, upping the lead to 4-2.

The game would stay like that until the top of the seventh when the Wildcats would find a way to tie and give them a new breath of life when the two teams went into the extra innings.

East Juniata is back in action today at home against Line Mountain at home while Greenwood travels to Susquenita on Wednesday.

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