DUKE CENTER, Pa. – After building an 8-2 lead through the top of the seventh inning, Clarion-Limestone had to hang on for an 8-7 win in the opening round of the District 9 Class A softball playoffs on Monday afternoon at Duke Center.
The Lady Terrors scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut C-L’s lead to one, but pitcher Regan Husted forced Abby Wolfe to ground out back to the circle, giving the Lady Lions an 8-7 victory. The win is C-L’s first playoff win since 2009, when the Lady Lions topped Northern Potter.
Kaylee Rhinehart began the seventh-inning rally with a home run after one out. Edahlia Sebastian and Kyla Andressano each added singles. Emalee Sheeler and Brianna Heller each followed with RBI singles. Reilly Raught then hit a two-run triple to right field, making the score 8-7. After a walk, Wolfe hit a chopper just to the left of the circle which Husted gloved and tossed to first to close out the win.
“You know in the playoffs you aren’t going to hold teams down the entire game,” said C-L head coach Jason Craig. “You’d like to hold them down, but you know they are going to battle. We could tell they were starting to time up Regan a bit in that last inning, and she was tiring a bit. But at one point we went out and had a visit. She did not want to come out of the game, she wanted to close it out.”
C-L (7-6 overall) scored three runs in the top of the first inning. Abby Himes singled after one out before Kendall Dunn ripped an RBI double. Dunn moved to third on the throw back to the infield. After a strikeout, Regan Husted singled home Dunn. Abby Knapp then singled, and when the ball got behind the left fielder, Husted came around to score for the 3-0 lead.
C-L would add two more runs in the third as Himes tripled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI single by Dunn. An error on a ball hit by Cassidy Makray put runners at second and third. Husted then hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Dunn, providing C-L with a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Husted retired the first eight batters before issuing a walk in the bottom of the third.
“Regan was on top of her game from the start today,” said Craig. “She’s the reason we got to the playoffs with how she’s pitched for most of this season. Today her changeup was really working well early on the keeping their hitters off-balance.”
Jocalyn Henry began the fourth with a single which ended the day for Wolfe in the pitching circle. After a pair of strikeouts, Himes singled to move Henry to third. Himes moved to second on a wild pitch before Dunn hit a two-run single for a 7-0 lead.
Otto-Eldred broke through with their first runs in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of walks sandwiched around a strikeout put runners on first and second. Sebastian then singled to load the bases. After another strikeout, Katie Sheeler hit a two-run single to cut the lead to 7-2.
The game remained 7-2 until the Lady Lions tacked on a run in the top of the seventh. Husted drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground out to first to start the inning, and Alyssa Wiant then singled up the middle to score Husted.
Abby Himes and Kendall Dunn combined for eight of C-L’s 13 hits with each going 4-for-4. Himes hit a triple, while Dunn hit a double and drove in four runs. Frances Milliron, Husted, Knapp, Wiant, and Henry each added one hit. Himes scored three runs, Dunn and Husted each scored two while Henry scored a run.
“Abby Himes and Kendall are two big offensive weapons and they are both just so consistent,” said Craig, “They aren’t afraid if they are behind in the count. I’m not surprised that they went for a combined 8-for-8 today, because that’s the type of players they are.”
Sebastian led Otto-Eldred with two hits. Six other players collected one hit for the Lady Terrors. Katie Sheeler and Raught each drove in two runs.
Husted finished the game allowing seven earned runs on eight hits. She walked four the struck out seven.
Wolfe allowed six runs, five earned in three-plus innings. She allowed seven hits and struck out three while not issuing a walk. Brianna Heller worked four innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits. She walked two while striking out seven.
“First of all, it was nice to see these girls fight just to get into the playoffs,” said Craig. “We have a fairly young team so that playoff experience is huge. To get a win is huge for our program. I couldn’t be happier for these girls to get this win.”
C-L will face Elk County Catholic on Wednesday in a semifinal game.