For three innings it was a pitcher’s duel between Bellefonte fireballer Tara Baney and Huntingdon’s Amanda Norris, who throws hard out of a funky delivery.
But in the fifth inning Norrris’ control left her, her defense deserted her and the Bellefonte hitters solved her delivery to put together a six-run rally and ultimately take a 7-4 win over the upset-minded Lady Bearcats.
Going into the fifth, Huntingdon was holding a 3-1 lead after Clare Alexander launched a Baney pitch over the fence and no doubt was thinking about knocking off another Centre County team after beating Bald Eagle Area, 12-10, last week.
“When you have a 3-1 lead, you have to be able to finish it,” Huntingdon coach Chris Patrick said. “This game could have gone either way. But we left too many runners on base, and they certainly hit the ball. We weren’t totally sharp on defense either. We had that one bad inning and, against Bellefonte, you can’t get away with that. They’re not going to give you anything, you have to earn it.”
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The Lady Raiders weren’t sharp on defense either, at least not in the third inning when they staked Huntingdon to a 2-0 lead. A single, a fielder’s choice and two throwing errors on Hannah Heintzelman accounted for Huntingdon’s first run, and an error on Gabby Brown’s swinging bunt allowed a second run to score.
Bellefonte answered with a run in the fourth on a bloop single by Ang Capparelle, and an outfield error on Jaelyn Smith’s single to right cut the Huntingdon lead in half before Alexander homered in the top of the fifth when the wheels came off for the Lady Bearcats.
Bellefonte’s Carson Kustaborder started the uprising by working Norris for a walk, one of two she issued in the inning. A fielder’s choice by Alexis Wetzler erased Kustaborder, and when Emma DeHaas flew out to center, Huntingdon was an out away from getting out of trouble. But then Baney walked, Rianna Trexler and Capparelle singled, Taylor Kerr reached on an error and Smith singled after chasing Norris. Lizzi Przybys singled off Natalee Shingler for the last hit of the inning.
“It was an interesting game,” Bellefonte coach Fred Caldwell said. “She (Norris) has an unusual delivery, and it usually takes us once through the lineup to relax and get over it. She has always thrown hard. They are much improved over the last two years. They hit the ball hard. They played a good game.”
As it turned out, not good enough to take down the Lady Raiders, who are veterans of the softball wars in the county. They don’t flinch when the opposition takes an early lead.
“We just try to keep the pressure on,” Caldwell said. “We’ve been able to put the pressure on teams when we’ve needed to.”
A couple of controversial calls that went against Bellefonte also contributed to outcome.
“There were a couple calls that could have gone our way and didn’t in the third inning that had the kids fired up in the dugout,” Caldwell said. “That gave us some momentum to go out and do what we did.”
With the win Bellefonte improved to 4-1, that lone loss coming to Conemaugh Valley by a 1-0 score Saturday.
“That game will help us,” Caldwell said. “And this was another game just like it. This will make us better down the road.”
Baney allowed only three hits and struck out eight for the win. Bellefonte got to Norris for five hits and took advantage of six walks. Capparelle and Smith had two hits each for the Lady Raiders.