With no one out and the winning run 60 feet away, there were no thoughts of being clever.
“I just wanted to get it done, hit the ball,” Bellefonte sophomore Lissi Przybys said. “I was just trying to get on base to get the lead runner (home).”
Despite struggling to even get a runner to third base all day, coach Fred Caldwell was not about to call for a bunt in the bottom of the final frame.
“Never crossed my mind,” Caldwell said. “Lissi’s been swinging the bat really well.”
Przybys’ fly ball to deep left field scored Emily Pugh with the game’s only run, while Tara Baney delivered a no-hitter in a 1-0 Lady Raider victory over Bald Eagle Area on Tuesday at O’Leary Fields.
“I was wondering when somebody was going to score,” Caldwell said. “I was standing in the box wondering who was going to blink first. Glad it was them.”
Baney’s first no-hitter of the season — and third of her Bellefonte varsity career — wasn’t about being overpowering, but using the solid defense behind her.
She struck out six and surrendered just two walks, with one other runner reaching on a dropped third strike. She faced only two batters over the minimum for seven innings.
“The first four innings, five innings she was throwing really well,” Caldwell said. “About the fifth or sixth inning she started missing a little bit — not significantly — but I was wondering if she was going to tire. But ... she’s a rock. We throw her in, count on her for a whole game all the time.”
She worked quickly, going to a full count on only four batters all day, and gave her infield a workout. BEA never had a ball leave the infield. There were three soft lineouts with the hardest right back to Baney, two pop-ups, and the rest were ground balls.
Despite the scoreless game and a strong outing by her opposition in Zoey Surovec, Baney didn’t feel she had to be perfect.
“I knew I had a solid defense behind me to pick me up all the way through,” Baney said. “Try to keep balls on the ground, not to get any fly balls or lineouts.”
In fact, she didn’t even know the Lady Eagles were hitless.
“I was just working on throwing strikes,” Baney said. “Probably, I didn’t know until after, honestly, because the goal was throw strikes, get ground balls, get outs and get runs on the board.”
Probably, I didn’t know until after, honestly, because the goal was throw strikes, get ground balls, get outs and get runs on the board.
Tara Baney, on her no-hitter
Surovec did her part for BEA (5-3). She gave up only four hits and one walk while striking out two.
“I thought Zoey pitched a really good game,” Lady Eagles coach Don Lucas said. “She just had that hit batsman in the seventh; other than that, really, she kept their big guns off (the bases).”
Through five innings Baney was the only runner in the game to reach third base, after a fourth-inning single. But in the sixth, Bellefonte (7-1) had everything lined up. The top-two batters in the order reached on a walk and fielder’s choice, but Rianna Trexler hit into a double play to erase the lead runner at third and, after an intentional walk to Baney, a fly out ended the threat.
Bellefonte’s Jaelyn Smith led off the seventh getting hit by a pitch, with Pugh brought in as a pinch runner. A wild pitch helped Pugh get to second, and Emma DeHaas then hit a sharp grounder to deep short that was bobbled just enough to help her reach base safely and move Pugh to third.
That set the tables for Przybys to loft a fly to just a few feet short of the left-field fence, easily allowing Pugh to trot home for the walk-off victory.
“I just wanted to win this,” Przybys said. “My teammates were on base, and they did what they needed to do. I just had to do what I had to do.”
Were there any butterflies for the sophomore in her first varsity season?
“Yeah,” she laughed. “But I had confidence we were going to do what we needed to do.”
Note: The BEA team wrote “#playfor4” on their arms to honor Mikayla Focht, a Hollidaysburg senior and softball player who died in an ATV accident on Friday. The team will be attending her funeral Wednesday. Said BEA outfielder Brooke Woodward in an email: “We played against them and her death had had an impact on my team immensely. We have realized that we need to play every game as if it was our last. I told the girls before we played that what ever happens, happens. We can’t get upset or show it because there are some people who can’t play it anymore and you realize that that play does not matter. The fact that we have the chance to play is unbelievable. We decided to play for her today because she didn’t know us very well but it’s sad for this to happen considering we just played her. She was an amazing player and person. We are skipping a good portion of school tomorrow as well to go to her funeral as a team. We don’t have to go but we insisted.”