As the old saying goes, better late than never. And that was the case in Tuesday’s Pettisville and Wauseon softball game at Wauseon as the Indians broke open a 1-1 tie with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth inning to seal the 5-1 victory over their county rival.
“I thought early in the game we were kind of on our heels and kind of second guessing ourselves in the box. We just didn’t have the confidence in ourselves,” said Wauseon coach Shelly Borton. “All it took is one hit to get going and then everyone else kind of followed in.”
Singles from Erin Douglass and Maddy Martinez kick-started the bottom of the sixth for the Indians, then Hayley Chamberlain’s RBI-single after a Wauseon ground out made it 2-1. Then, freshman Christina Norman, who had come into to pinch hit just an inning before, drove a hard single up the middle that plated a pair of runs to push the Wauseon advantage to 4-1.
“I think she is gonna be extremely helpful for us down the road,” said Borton of Norman.
After another out and a walk by Ally Tefft, Oliviah Banister singled in another run and the Indians led 5-1 after six.
The Blackbirds faced Wauseon freshman pitcher Alisa Shelt in the away half of the seventh and went down in order to end the contest, dropping them to 0-1 on the season. However, their coach was very positive after the game, highlighting how they took the lead 1-0 right out of the gate.
“For us I thought we came out ready to go. I was a little shocked with that,” said Pettisville coach Kendra Stahl. “We’ve got some circumstances that have come up within the last couple of weeks and just today, that we didn’t have our full roster. And so we had several players that had to step up and play different positions that probably weren’t expecting to play. And they did.
“We got a run that first inning I thought okay, we are going to be alright. We kind of cooled off, but like I told them, we competed the whole game. We didn’t let excuses get in our way.”
The Birds scored right away in the top of the first, but Wauseon tied it in the bottom of the second.
A key stretch for Pettisville came in the top of the fifth and sixth inning where they left a total of five runners on base.
In the fifth, Starr Kessinger reached first base by way of a fielding error with one out. Tefft, who started in the circle for Wauseon, then got a ground out, but a hit by Jaelyn Rufenacht and Kyra Behnfeldt’s walk loaded the bases.
However, another ground ball allowed Tefft to get out of it unscathed. It was her last inning as Shelt would enter the game in the sixth.
Andrea Flory drew a walk for the Blackbirds to start the top of the sixth, then Brittney Sauder reached first on a bunt in which the foot of the Wauseon fielder came off the bag in what should have been the first out.
Mallory Riegsecker’s sacrifice bunt was the first out, however, she successfully advanced Flory and Sauder. Shelt then fanned a pair of Blackbird hitters to end the threat.
“We had our chances,” noted Stahl. “And we just couldn’t find that person to step up and execute a hard hit somewhere just to make something happen. That’s something that will hopefully come, getting in those situations, those circumstances, (more frequently) as the season progresses.”
Borton thought her squad’s defense, particularly Reagan Spadafore at third base, played a big role in getting out of those jams.
“I had Reagan in at third base for the first time this year and she does it well,” said the coach. “She is so nonchalant about the way she plays and just attacks everything. That is where our pitchers are a little bit more confident to put the ball in there and our defense is gonna make some plays for them.”
Chamberlain went 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs, while Banister was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a walk. Rufenacht and Behnfeldt had hits for Pettisville.
Wauseon is back in action tomorrow when they host Napoleon. Pettisville hosts Ayersville Thursday before traveling to Montpelier on Friday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010