MILLERSTOWN – East Juniata and Greenwood both made a statement Friday evening on the softball diamond in a Tri-Valley League double header.
The Tigers showed in the first game that they are not easily shut down. In a game that was picked up in the bottom of the second with a 9-1 Greenwood lead after the game had originally been suspended for rain in April, East Juniata held on and put up enough runs to take the game into the sixth before the final 16-5 loss.
“We had nothing really to lose in the first game,” East Juniata coach Joe Schilling said, which was evident as the Tigers took a game that could have ended much earlier all the way into the sixth.
However, Greenwood had a statement to make, too. And it was abundantly clear in the second game – one the Wildcats won 10-0 in five innings – that although East Juniata was able to hold on for a while in the first game, Greenwood was not about to let the Tigers get close to the win.
The second Greenwood batter of game two, Brittany Fleisher put Greenwood’s message out loud and clear when she hit s steel rope over left fielder Shelley Gabel on a 1-2 count to not only bring home teammate Katie Osborne, who lead off with a single, but to round the bases herself for the two-run homer.
Greenwood was off and running, and the inning wasn’t over until an RBI from Rachel Stroup brought in Amy Heggenstaller from third for the 3-0 lead.
From there, it was the Greenwood show as far as scoring went, most notably in the fifth when a two RBI single by Becca Stavely with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second brought home Stroup and Chelsea Hicks for the 10-0 Greenwood win in five.
Leading up to Stavely’s walk off single, Greenwood had notched five of its 10 total hits as a slew of RBI singles plus an RBI triple from Brooke Louden resulted in three runs.
Greenwood had also previously put up two in the second when Fleisher notched her third RBI of the day with a single to left field to bring in Stavely. Fleisher then kept the ball rolling later in the inning when she baited East Juniata into throwing her out at second on an attempted steal – a play that gave East Juniata an out, but allowed Obsorne to score from third.
“They looked relaxed. I thought the past couple of games our bats have really started to come alive and I think confidence has grown, and I think you saw that here today,” Greenwood coach Troy Gantt said.
But in addition to batting, what Greenwood also had going in its favor was a crushing performance from starting pitcher Brooke Louden and the defense behind her. In game one, the freshman struggled with control and gave up four walks and seven East Junaita hits, but in the second game Louden settled in to give up just one walk and three hits.
“I think this may be her first official start. She’s pitched a number of games for us, but she stepped in, did a great job. I thought she got better as the day went on,” Gantt said.
Of course, Louden’s game wouldn’t have been what it was without her team’s defense. Greenwood handled many hard hit line drives throughout the game, including one in the second that Louden turned into a double play when she grabbed a liner in the circle then made the quick throw to third to pick Gabel off at third.
“That’s been the missing piece for us a lot of the season is the defense behind the pitching. We avoided having long innings, the defense came through with a number of key plays and double plays, and that was nice to see here tonight,” Gantt said.
Overall, East Juniata was not much of a threat in the second game, but in the first it kept the contest interesting as RBIs from Meisha Heintzelman and Lydia Hunter in the fifth, plus an RBI from Kiley Sheaffer and a successful suicide squeeze from Taylor Marker in the sixth played a roll in keeping East Juniata in the game as long as it was.
“I thought the second game was pretty good. We had some rough innings. Understandable, unfortunately, but that seems to be the story of us this year,” Schilling said, whose team had four errors in both the first and the second games.
Greenwood’s scoring plays from game one were in the third, when the Wildcats scored two on an East Juniata error and when Osborne grounded out for a 6-3 play at first which brought Fleisher home from third. Then in the sixth, Fleisher brought in two with a double to center and Heggenstaller followed up with a similar play, doubling to center to bring in Osborne.
Both teams are on the road Monday, as East Juniata looks for its fourth win when it travels to Newport and Greenwood (5-10, 5-8) takes the bus ride to Midd-West.
East Juniata 10, Greenwood 0 (5 innings)
MILLERSTOWN – Bailey Coder threw 13 strikeouts against Tri-Valley League opponent Greenwood, and that was pretty much the entire story of Friday’s 10-0 game.
In the win, which East Juniata coach Tim Brubaker described as “a really good game,” the only hit Coder gave up was to Josh Shuman, who led off the first with a single.
“We threw the ball well. Our catcher Mitch (Taylor) had an excellent game behind the plate. But our two-strike hitting just fell apart. (Coder) threw well, but we didn’t put no pressure on him at all,” Greenwood coach Mark Sherman said.
The game went five innings before ending due to the 10-run rule, and in that time East Juniata’s Nick Stahr went 2-for-4 with and RBI and Dalton Rowe went 2-for-3 and crossed home three times.
The Tigers’ win was one of two, as the teams completed a game which had been suspended in April due to thunderstorms. East Juniata won that game, 14-1 in five innings.
East Juniata (13-3, 11-2) travels to Newport Monday. Greenwood travels to Midd-West Monday.