LOCK HAVEN - The game had its ups and downs early. In the end, the victorious team was going to be the one that had more to give.
Clinton County gladly accepted, and completed that challenge.
The locals were able to finish off a fiery Brandon softball squad, 9-5 for their second straight win in Major division all-star competition.
Clinton’s Skylar Smith slides into home against Brandon during Clinton’s 9-5 victory yesterday in Lock Haven.
The win certainly didn't come easy for Clinton County, but in only the team's second game of the all-star season, there were noticeable improvements.
One improvement was getting their offense going earlier. In their first game earlier in the week on Monday, the Clinton squad went scoreless through the first two innings. This was something the coaching staff wanted to see change.
They demanded it and they got it.
After Brandon took a 1-0 lead heading into the bottome of the first, it was Clinton's turn to try and seize back momentum. This group of girls know they have the ability to bring out the bats at any given moment and do some damage. But, this time, they started lighting up the scoreboard in an unconventional way. With the bases loaded and only one out, the first of the of the three runs scored came off a wild pitch that got by the catcher and McKenna Bittner took advantage, sliding through homeplate tying the game up at one a piece. The next run was thanks to a beautiful bunt laid down by Elania Eckley bringing home Skylar Smith. Eckley also scored the final run of the inning in a heads-up play, off another wild pitch, stealing home.
Even though it wasn't quite good enough for assistant coach Eric Dershem, he was still pleased with the team.
"Still no fast start; now having said that, it was a little better this time and we got a few runs in our half of the inning," Dershem said. "So, there is improvement there with the way we started, but it's still not as fast we would like."
The Clinton fans in attendance can thank the superb base running by their team as the main reason CC was able to regain control of the lead.
"The base running is something we've preached for years and that is something that's never going to change," Dershem said. "We're always in constant motion trying to take advantage of every opportunity we can. We alway say this and we will continue to say it, it's all about 'mass confusion.' Keep them guessing, don't ever let the other team know what we're doing."
To make a fast start count, the defense has to show up too, and the Brandon Little leaguers' offense also had something to say. And the catalyst of that offensive attack was Brittany Thompson. The Brandon short stop had already tripled in the first inning and then came on even stronger in the top of the second. Thompson drilled the ball to the gap in left-center field bringing in two of teammates to even up the score with Clinton.
"Brittany is just an amazing athlete and she can really rip the ball," head coach Bo Hornberger said. "She's just very gifted, a great hitter, and that's why she's our lead off."
Now it was time for the ladies of Clinton to respond once again. Brandon had already absorbed the counter attack and the locals had to show what they were made of.
The top of the third marked the turning point of the game. Caitlyn Brush really started to settle in and get comfortable on the mound. She was able to hold the Brandon squad scoreless three out of the last four innings.
Clinton County started to put the game out of reach through both the third inning and the fourth. They scored two runs in the third and put an exclamation point on their lead with four more runs in the fourth.
"I think Caitlyn really started to buckle down and the defense really came through for us end. They were squaring up and doing the fundamentals that we've taught them," Dershem said. "We still need to hone in on some things; we had a few mental mistakes. Our new motto this year is 'defensive pride' and that is what's going to win us games."
The Clinton County all-stars are now 2-0 and their next game will be a semi-final match with either Montoursville or East Lycoming on Sunday at 2 p.m.
District 12 Major Softball
CLINTON 9, BRANDON 5
B 120 020 - 5 4 1
C 302 40X - 9 8 2
WP - Caitlyn Brush. LP - Skler Colarusso. 3B: B, Brittany Thompson. C, Josie Dershem. 2B: B, Thompson, Aimee Holzapfer. C, Skylar Smith. MH: B, Thompson. C, Makenzie Peters, Smith.