Huge inning carries EJ past Indians
Robinson’s HR caps 10-run inning
COCOLAMUS–The latest installment of the Juniata-East Juniata softball rivalry looked as if it were going to end in a pitchers’ duel before the Tigers’ offense erupted to win the game 11-1 in five innings, at East Juniata on Monday.
For the first four innings, East Juniata’s Brenna Watts and Juniata’s Alexea Frontz were in total command in the circle–each pitcher allowed only one hit during the stretch.
“Brenna has always been a solid presence for us out on the mound,” Tigers coach Lauren Cheran said. “She always controls pitches, throws strikes and gets outs whenever she needs to. She’s a dominant presence and she’s got a good group of girls behind her.”
Juniata coach Erin Cressman was equally impressed with her starting pitcher’s performance both in the circle and at the plate.
“She’s been getting better every game,” Cressman said about Frontz. “I’m very proud of her effort. She’s a great player and I’m excited to see her grow.”
As the game entered the bottom of the fifth, the score was tied at one. The Tigers got on the board in the second as Watts drew a walk with the bases loaded to plate a run. Frontz got her revenge in the fifth as she scorched a double to right center off of Watts, tying the game.
The East Juniata bats, which were quiet all game, awoke in the fifth inning and poured on 10 runs in a hurry–a common trend in Juniata losses this season.
“We had four and a half innings (of solid play), but we did our normal thing this year where we have some good innings, then we have that one inning where we struggle,” Cressman said. “We have to clean up that one inning and pull it all together.”
Tiana Terry and Watts began the inning drawing walks, before a single by Alyssa Robinson loaded the bases.
An error by the Indians first baseman allowed the Tigers to take a 2-1 lead.
Emma Willow followed with a hard line drive to center field which was misplayed by the Juniata center fielder, allowing a pair of runs to cross the plate.
An Erin Sheaffer single drove in another pair of runs, making the score 6-1 and Watts drove in another two Tigers’ runners to push the score to 8-1.
With two outs in the inning, Robinson stepped to the plate with two runners on and hit a towering shot to center which cleared the fence for a mercy-rule, walk-off home run.
“Our offensive game has been struggling lately and it’s been something we’ve been preaching game after game,” Cheran said about taking advantage of getting runners on base. “We pulled the girls aside before the fifth inning and said, ‘Girls, this is the time to make hits now because the game is not gonna get any easier and it’s a tie ball game. So, now is the time to go.’ They finally made some good contact, got good hits and they did what we asked from them.”
Despite the outcome and the final score, the badly-depleted roster of the Juniata Indians played an overall solid game. They held the Tigers in check, but had one inning that got away from them. Their defense, which has been shaky at times, made all the necessary plays in the first four innings and helped Frontz work out of some jams.
“The girls played hard. They were excited to play today–we knew it was a big game and a good team,” Cressman said about playing their cross-county rivals. “I was happy with their effort, I just wish we could’ve pulled it out.”
East Juniata improves to 5-2 overall and will host Halifax on Wednesday while the Indians fall to 1-5 overall as they head into a Wednesday matchup against Newport.
East Juniata 11, Juniata 1
WP: Brenna Watts. LP: Alexea Frontz. SO: Watts 5 (EJ); Frontz 4 (J). BB: Watts 2 (EJ); Frontz 6. HR: Alyssa Robinson (EJ). 2B: Frontz (J). MH: Robinson 2-3 (EJ). RBI: Watts 3, Robinson 3, Erin Sheaffer 2, Macy Buskey, Emma Willow (EJ); Frontz (J).