Wild Pitch in Bottom of the Eighth Gives Clarion Softball Win over Johnsonburg
CLARION, Pa. – Sydney Kiser scored on a one-out wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning to cap a comeback from down two going to the seventh for Clarion in a 4-3 win over visiting Johnsonburg Monday.
“We knew we were 60 feet away there,” Clarion manager Dan Shofestall said. “We had her coming off the bag (on the pitch). I said if the ball hits the dirt, keep moving. She has pretty good quickness, and we thought that was a chance to get the win if she got a good jump there. She did a nice job. I thought she got off pretty quick.”
Clarion trailed 3-1 going to the bottom of the seventh but tied the game despite not getting a hit in the inning.
Sophomore MacKenzie DiTullio, getting a rare start, got the rally started by drawing a leadoff walk off of Skylar Sherry.
“I was proud of her,” Shofestall said. “It got us doing. Down two runs, it was important to get that leadoff runner on. That was exactly what we needed. She did a good job. She is a good kid and has a bright future ahead of her.”
The leadoff walk didn’t look like it was going to be an issue when Sherry got the next batter, Keanna Over, to hit a comeback to the circle. But Sherry’s throw to second sailed on her into centerfield giving the Lady Cats runners on first and second with no one out.
A wild pitch then put runners on second and third, and after Anna Reed popped out to shortstop for the first out, Johnna Rapp drew a walk to load the bases for Sadie Rudesyle. Another wild pitch scored DiTullio to make it 3-2, and a groundout by Rudesyle to shortstop tied the game at three.
Rudesyle, who got the win going eight innings and allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out seven, then put Johnsonburg’s three-four-five hitters down in quick order in the top of the eighth getting two strikeouts and a soft liner to second on just seven pitches.
“I thought she got stronger at the end of the game,” Shofestall said about his sophomore hurler. “She was good the whole game, but I thought she got a lot stronger the last three innings.”
Kiser then started the bottom of the eighth with a base hit down the right-field line, and she moved to second on a wild pitch.
One out later, Carly Best hit a grounder to third and reached safely when the throw by third baseman Kylee Wall pulled the first baseman Ashton Watts off the bag with Kiser going to third. Best then took second on team indifference. And on a 3-2 pitch to DiTullio the ball was in the dirt getting away from catcher Britnee Thorwart, whose throw to Sherry was just late allowing Kiser to score the winning run.
Here is Kiser’s take on the final play and the win.
The game was close throughout.
Clarion took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Cora Zerfoss scored on the backend of a double steal that saw Kiser swipe second. Zerfoss had led off with a single to center and went to second on a sac bunt by Kiser, who was safe on the play on an error.
That score held until the fifth when Johnsonburg scored all three of its runs thanks to three hits and a walk.
Maddie Herzing led off with a bloop double down the right-field line then stole third.
One out later, Jenna Tomaski had a fantastic at bat battling back from an 0-2 count to draw and eight-pitch walk.
Hannah Park then lifted a sacrifice fly to the shortstop Over in shallow centerfield tying the game.
Jaylie Johnson followed with a bunt single to the left of the circle and promptly stole second. Thorwart then drove in both runners with a single up the middle giving the Ramettes a 3-1 lead.
Both teams had chances in the sixth but failed to score.
Johnsonburg had runners on second and third with one out, but Rudesyle got a popup and a strikeout to shut down the threat.
Clarion got two hits and a walk in the bottom of the sixth, but a caught stealing and a hard-hit fly out to right by Best for the third out ended the threat.
That pretty much summed up Clarion’s first six innings that saw the Lady Cats hit into a pair of double plays, have a runner caught stealing and leave eight others on base, including six in scoring position.
“It was frustrating,” Shofestall admitted. But that’s baseball or softball. It just happens that way sometimes. We hit a couple of balls hard but right at people. It’s frustrating, but it’s also good to know you have a team that’s capable of playing defense and capable of getting runs late like we did. I thought we fought well the last three innings. I thought that was the key to the win. Anytime you come down the seventh inning and you are down two (and win) it feels good for the team.
“We beat a pretty good team tonight. I think it shows us we have the capability of coming back. It gives us that confidence that you have done it before and are capable of doing it again if that situation comes up
We beat a pretty good team tonight. I think it shows us we have the capability of coming back. It gives you that confidence you have done it before and are capable of doing it again if that situation comes up.”
Clarion finishes the regular season 13-7 and won its final seven regular-season games. Johnsonburg, which still has regular-season games left with Bradford Wednesday and at Brookville Thursday, is now 12-6.
Both teams should be headed to the postseason with Clarion entering the District 9 Class A bracket and Johnsonburg going into the D9 Class AA bracket. The playoffs start next week.
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