CONTINENTAL — The “inning.”
It is a word that brings dread to many a softball coach and good thoughts to many others.
Tuesday night at Continental High School, the bottom of the sixth inning brought cheer to host Continental and dread to Jefferson coach Josiah Stober as the host Lady Pirates rallied for an 11-8 non-league win..
The bright sunshine and gusty winds made it a tough night for both defenses, especially right fielders as the wind blew toward the right-field corner and the sun made fly balls difficult to deal with.
The Lady Pirates (2-5), trailing 6-5 to begin their at-bat in the sixth, began with an infield hit off third baseman Shayla Rice’s glove by lefty-swinging Amelia Weller. She stole second and leadoff hitter Alex Quigley walked. Erica Fitzwater’s grounder was booted, loading the sacks. McKenna Scott blooped a hit just over the outstretched glove of shortstop Hannah Sensibaugh to plate Weller and tie the game at 6. A wild pitch plated Quigley and moved the others up a base. After an out, Kiana Warnement beat out an infield hit up the middle to score Fitzwater and put runners on the corners and she promptly stole second. Sloane Zachrich flied out to right to get Scott in for a 9-6 Pirate lead. Alexis Doster grounded a single into right; an error on the sequence allowed her to come all the way around to score behind Warnement for an 11-6 edge.
Those extra runs proved vital as the Wildcats weren’t done in the seventh against Pirate winner Emma Recker (2-4; 7 IPs, 8 hits, 8 ERs, 4 BBs, 7 Ks). Sensibaugh commenced with a triple to right that just ticked off Kayla Troyer’s glove. Samantha Branham walked and advanced on a one-out wild pitch. Jessica Pimpas walked to load the bases and Sophie Wilson hit a 2-out wind-blown blooper to left that plated Sensibaugh and Branham for an 11-8 deficit and put runners on the corners. However, the next Delphos batter was retired to end the outing.
The Pirates went up 1-0 as Quigley led off the Pirate first against Jefferson tough-luck starter Claire Thompson (1-7; 6 IPs, 8 hits, 11 runs, 4 earned, 6 BBs, 1 K) with a single, stole second, took third on Fitzwater’s sacrifice and scored on a Scott fly ball to center.
The Lady Wildcats made it 3-1 in the second. With one out, Wilson and Kiersten Teman were plunked. Wilson was forced at third by a Sarah Thitoff grounder before Abby Parkins walked to juice the sacks and they were unjuiced on a bases-clearing double by Sensibaugh.
The Pirates tied it at 3 in the third as Kayla Troyer walked but was cut down on Weller’s groundout. In turn, she was ousted on Quigley’s comebacker. The latter stole second and scored on Fitzwater’s bloop to right. She took third on a 2-base throwing error on Scott’s grounder before Emily Logan walked and Warnement also walked to force Fitzwater in for a 3-3 tie. However, the Pirates left the bases loaded.
Continental went up 5-3 in the fourth. With two down, Weller walked and swiped second. An error was made on Quigley’s grounder to put runners on the corners, with the batter stealing second. They both scored via Fitzwater’s 2-run liner to center.
The visitors retaliated in the top of the fifth. Sensibaugh blooped a hit into right and stole second. Branham singled sharply up the middle and stole second. A wild pitch brought Sensibaugh in. With one down, Jessica Pimpas lined a shot into right that carried very well and rolled all the way to the right-field corner; she hustled all the way around for an inside-the-park home run and a 6-5 lead.
“There are plays you simply have to make and we didn’t make them; that’s what it came down to. We had a lot of errors and others that we misplayed; we can’t be doing that,” Jefferson coach Josiah Stober acknowledged. “We constantly preach about doing the little things and we will win games; we didn’t do them tonight defensively. We’re learning but we have more to learn. It was good that we got our bats out again after being shut out the night before. We just can’t seem to pout a complete game together consistently offensively and defensively.”
“The wind was tough tonight for everyone. We’ve had our share of bad innings happening to us but we thankfully got the benefit tonight,” Continental Coach Jordan Streicher said. “We persevered tonight because we had to rally twice. Emma pitched reasonably well and we got some runs for her tonight. We’re a young team but in my opinion, we aren’t a 2-5 team. Right now, we just need to get our games in.”