This is what the softball gods had in mind when they created the game.
A sun-screen kind of day. Two fierce rivals squaring off in a late-season game full of playoff implications. And more drama than the junior class play.
That’s what you had at Bellefonte’s O’Leary Field Thursday when visiting Bald Eagle Area hooked up with Bellefonte, and when it was over the Lady Eagles boarded the bus back to Wingate with an 8-4 win in the scorebook and hopes of a Mountain League title and a top District 6 seed still intact, at least for one more day. They visit Central today, Punxsutawney tomorrow and front-running Philipsburg-Osceola on Monday.
“We call this the championship run,” said Eagle coach Curt Heverly. “We were at Hollidaysburg last night, here today, at Central tomorrow, Punxy on Saturday and Philipsburg Monday. We’ve sort of come out of nowhere, we’re 13-3, and if we can win tomorrow (today) and Saturday we can go to Philipsburg Monday and play for all the marbles.’’
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But for a while on Thursday, that was way beyond Heverly’s dreams as Bellefonte jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to a single by Ang Capparelle, a hit batter, and a two-run double down the right field line by Tara Baney.
At the same time, BEA left the bases loaded in the first inning, stranded another runner in the second and had a runner thrown out at the plate in the third.
However, in the fourth, BEA broke through against Stevie Confer on a one-out triple into the left center gap by Morgan Nyman and a run-scoring single by Megan Peters.
And in the top of the fifth, the Lady Eagles tied it up when Olivia Andrews rapped a single and came around to score when Morgan Peters fly to center was misplayed.
Bellefonte retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Liz Linn singled, was sacrificed to second, moved up on Capparelle’s single and scored on Olivia Ripka’s infield out. A BEA error, its only one of the game, allowed Capparelle to score to make it 4-2.
“We came over here and we didn’t play well for the first five innings,” Heverly said. “We had a heck of a trip to Hollidaysburg last night. We got behind and then came back for the win (13-4) there. We talked to the kids about momentum, about coming over here and jumping right on this team. We wanted to be aggressive. We have a lot of speed and when we get them going we can run a little. We put pressure on them (Bellefonte) and they gave us some runs. I like the fact that these kids can come back but I’d like to see them play seven strong innings once just to see how good they can be.
“They don’t give up but they need to be consistent instead of playing a few bad innings. In one of these big games they’re going to get down by four and maybe can get two back but can’t make it all the way back.”
They made it all the way back and took the lead in the top of the sixth, as Nyman opened the inning with an infield single. A pair of Bellefonte errors on Sydney Shultz’s sacrifice allowed Nyman to score, a double steal scored Shultz and a single by Haley Giedroc put BEA up 5-4.
BEA tacked on three runs without a hit in the seventh as the Bellefonte defense fell apart, committing three errors, all in the infield.
Nyman, Megan Peters and Mikayla Smith had two hits apiece for BEA.
“This game meant a lot,’’ said Nyman, the sophomore catcher. “They’re a good team. We struggled a little but then we came back. That will just make us stronger. They gave us some runs and we needed them.’’
Makenna Dyke turned in a gritty performance in the circle. She made a trip to the emergency room Monday night and did not pitch against Hollidaysburg. Thursday she threw a four-hitter and walked only one batter (Cooper intentionally).
“I asked her today how she felt,’’ Heverly said. “She said this is Bellefonte and it’s my senior year. I’m all right. She’s tougher than a pine knot. She’s kept us in games.”