LOCK HAVEN - When two highly competitive teams get together, the margin for error is usually very small. The Little League softball all-stars of Clinton County only need one inning to make that point crystal clear.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, clinging to a two-run lead, the bats of Clinton County came alive. The home team broke out of its shell driving in five runs enroute to an 8-1 victory in Clinton County's first major division all-star game.
"Well, it's always nice to start out with a win, but as far as our expectations go, we want to take one game at a time," Clinton assistant coach Eric Dershem said. "The team was able to overcome some things early tonight, they finished strong and we're proud of them for that."
Clinton’s Marissa Moyer tags out Jersey Shore’s Morgan Kriner at third base during Clinton’s 8-1 victory over GSV yesterday in Lock Haven.
While the offense caught fire for Clinton late, both teams struggled with slow starts.
The game was scoreless heading into the top of the third thanks to a pair of solid pitching performances by Jersey Shore's Montana Ohl and Clinton's Caitlyn Brush.
For the Jersey Shore all-stars, there was a crowd-gasping moment when Ohl was hit by line drive off the leg. Not only was she able to stay in the game, but she also bailed her team out of a jam. With a runner on third, Ohl managed to force a groundout to first to end the inning.
"When I looked at her after she got hit I started to see it was already starting bruise. So, she's going to have a pretty big black and blue mark there tomorrow, but I have to say that girl is an absolute warrior," head coach Shore Josh Ewing said. "She never gets rattled, she practices hard and she plays hard. She's a soldier for us out there and I absolutely love having her on the team."
Ohl wasn't quite done with her heroics.
The top of the third was the inning where things started to look promising for Jersey Shore. Natalie Winchester got things started with a started with a single and soon, once again, Ohl had the pressure on her.
And, once again, delivered.
Connecting on a fast ball from fellow pitcher Brush, Ohl eeked out a single that resulted in a two-base throwing bringing home Winchester for a 1-0 lead.
And that would be Jersey Shore's only lead of the game.
Fast-forward to the top of the fifth, Brush finally had enough of the pesky Jersey Shore squad.
She struck out two and retired another making quick of the visiting team.
"She is a very determined individual and an excellent pitcher for us," Eric Dershem said. "She also knows at times she has to rely on her defense but we couldn't ask for a better performance from her today."
The rest of the team followed Brush's lead.
Skylar Smith put her mark on the inning first with a single. Later, with the bases loaded, Elania Eckley singled to first and through a series of throwing errors, three runners touched home base. Mackenzie Peters followed up with an RBI triple and blank Fletcher scored another run off a sacrifice play.
"It took a little bit of time for us to get the butterflies out of our stomachs but I think the girls started to settle down as the game went," Dershem said. "Once they started to relax things really started going well for us because the girls' confidence level started to rise and when that happens, from top to bottom, everyone can contribute."
Brush closed out the game retiring three batters for the win in the top of the sixth.
Eight unanswered runs is tough to swallow no matter what team you coach but Ewing believes his team can overcome a tough start.
"I thought early on our girls were very agressive and that's some that I liked to see. But hey, that team played in the state champioship last year and if you take one play off they can make you pay," Ewing said. "It's still early and I think the girls can bounce back and hopefully we can meet Clinton again somewhere down the road."
District 12 Major Softball
JERSEY SHORE 1
J 001 000 - 1 6 4
C 002 15X -8 8 3
WP - Caitlyn Brush, LP - Montana Ohl. 3B: C, Mackenzie Peters 2B: C, Brush. MH: J, Morgan Kriner. C, Peters, Brooke Confer.