STRATTANVILLE, Pa. – In a game full of offense, it turned out to be a fine defensive play that decided an 11-10 Clarion Area victory over Clarion-Limestone on Tuesday afternoon at the C-L Sports Complex in Strattanville.
(Archived Photo by: Kim Constantino)
The two teams combined for 21 runs and 25 hits for the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, after a pair of strikeouts, leadoff hitter Frances Milliron reached an error when her grounder to shortstop was misplayed. Milliron then reached second on a wild pitch. Abby Himes then drew a walk. After a Clarion conference with their whole team at the pitcher’s circle, Kendall Dunn beat out a slow grounder to third, but first baseman Payton Simko fired a strike to catcher Jordan Best who tagged Milliron to end the game.
“We knew they had speed on first base with Himes, so we really were talking about a ball hit into the gap that we wanted to try and cut her down because she was the winning run,” said Clarion head coach Dan Shofestall. “We also practice that final play a lot in practice, and Payton and Jordan did an excellent job of executing it for the out.”
C-L (1-1) outhit Clarion 14 to 11. Abby Himes, Kendall Dunn, and Regan Husted all had three hits for the Lady Lions, with Himes hitting a triple while Dunn added a double and a triple with three RBI’s. Himes scored four times. Abby Knapp and Alyssa Wiant each added two hits, with Knapp driving in a pair of runs. Milliron also tripled in the game.
“Our program is in a good spot right now,” said C-L head coach Jason Craig. “We have a lot of wins that we’re capable of getting. I’ll take these types of games all season. We play like we did tonight, and I feel we’re going to come out on the winning end more than the losing end. Tonight just didn’t go our way. We get to see them again next week.”
The top four batters for Clarion combined for eight of the Lady Cats 11 hits, with Noel Anthony going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles with three runs scored and two RBI’s. Jordan Best added two hits with a two-run home run. Kylee Beers added a pair of hits with a double and three RBI’s.
“We hit the ball well tonight, but you know how hitting goes it can go south in a hurry,” said Shofestall. “We were able to bunch some hits together and score some runs. You have to give C-L credit, though because they also hit the ball really well, and they have a really nice team over there.”
Through the first four innings, the two teams nearly matched each other run for run. Clarion scored two runs in the top of the first, with Beers hitting a two-run single to drive in Anthony and Best, who each singled.
C-L answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning as Milliron led off with a triple, and Himes walked. Milliron scored on a wild pitch. Dunn hit a triple to drive in Himes before a bunt single by Knapp drove in Dunn for a 3-2 C-L lead after one.
Clarion added three runs in the second as Anthony hit an RBI double before Best hit her two-run homer to give Clarion a 5-3 lead.
C-L got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Himes tripled and scored on a throwing error on a ball hit by Dunn to cut the lead to 5-4 after two.
Ava Kiser walked and later scored on a single by Brianna Forrest that was misplayed in right field to push the lead to 6-4. Before the run, the Lady Cats had a runner cut down at third as Beers doubled and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
Knapp drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third, and Husted followed with a single. Alyssa Wiant singled to load the bases. Olivia Smith then hit an RBI ground out to score Knapp. Husted then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 6-6 after three.
After keeping Clarion off the scoreboard in both the fourth and fifth innings, C-L scored one run in the bottom of the fourth and three more in the fifth to take a 10-6 lead. Knapp hit an RBI single in the fourth to score Himes, who had hit a one-out single. In the fifth, Himes hit an RBI single who Dunn added a two-run double.
Clarion came back with a four-run sixth to tie the game. Mackenzie Aaron singled to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Anthony drew a walk. Best then singled to drive in Aaron. Anthony later scored on a wild pitch while Brenna Campbell walked and later scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Beers.
Clarion then took the lead in the top of the seventh as Jadyn Shaftic drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Anthony then doubled down the left-field line to score Shaftic for the 11-10 lead.
“Clarion has a good team, especially their top four or five batters,” said Craig. “We had trouble with Noel (Anthony) as she was hitting the ball all over the place. As I said, we still had a chance to win, and I’ll take that every time out. The breaks just didn’t go our way today.”
Payton Simko started and worked the first five innings allowing 10 runs, six earned on 12 hits. She walked two and struck out two. Kylee Beers picked up the win tossing two scoreless innings, allowing two hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Cassidy Makray started for C-L and allowed eight runs, seven earned on nine hits. She walked four and struck out three. Regan Husted suffered the loss allowing three earned runs on two hits. She walked three and struck out two.
“Payton threw a lot of pitches, but we’ve been working both her and Kylee so far this season,” said Shofestall. “We wanted to give a different look and a change of pace to their hitters to try and break up their timing a bit. We thought that might work to our advantage because, as I said, they have a really good team and have a lot of girls who can really hit the ball. It was tough to see anyone lose this game because both teams played really well tonight.”