SAXTON - The H.O.P.E. for Hyndman Charter School softball team danced through the raindrops literally and figuratively in Wednesday afternoon's 2-1 District 5-A quarterfinal playoff win over Tussey Mountain at the Saxton V.F.W. Field.
With Hyndman clinging to a 1-0 lead and Tussey batting in the bottom of the sixth inning, the skies darkened, and the clouds began to open up.
Tussey had loaded the bases with nobody out and tied the score, 1-1, on Joelle Kaminsky's fielder's choice grounder that scored Adriene Angelo from third base.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Tussey Mountain’s Tinesha Curfman pitches Wednesday.
Then the rains, thunder and lightning came, forcing a 38-minute delay.
When the teams took the field again, junior left-handed pitcher Jessica Ringler did her best Houdini imitation for Hyndman, working out of the bases-filled jam by retiring three batters in a row without further damage.
Ringler proved to be the hero with the bat in the top of the seventh inning, too, clubbing a two-out, RBI single to center field that scored Kadi Cosgrove from third base with the winning run for fifth-seeded Hyndman, which earned a berth in next Tuesday's semifinals.
Hyndman (14-7 this season) will face the winner of today's Shade-Meyersdale matchup in the semis at a site to be determined.
Fourth-seeded Tussey closed the books on an 11-7 season.
Ringler emerged as the hero in every possible way for Hyndman. Along with collecting the game-winning hit, she pitched a nifty four-hitter, striking out 11 batters and walking three.
"It doesn't get any bigger or better than that,'' Hyndman coach Matt Dawson said. "She came through with the game-winning hit, and she was very dominant today on the pitcher's mound. She keeps us in every game with her pitching arm.''
Tussey Mountain pitcher Tinesha Curfman nearly matched Ringler pitch-for-pitch, allowing just six hits, striking out five batters, and walking three.
"Tinesha did a good job pitching today,'' Tussey coach Sandy Kay Rickabaugh said. "We just didn't come up with enough hits in a row.''
Especially in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the game in the balance. After the rain delay, Ringler buckled down and struck out Alex Watkins, got Erica Reffner to pop out to catcher Karly Willison, and induced Morgan Brumbaugh to line out to third to end the bases-loaded threat and the inning.
"We couldn't put it all together there,'' Rickabaugh said. "We couldn't get another run with the bases loaded.''
Cosgrove collected a one-out infield single in the seventh inning for Hyndman, moved to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on Willison's groundout to second. Ringler followed with her big hit that chased home Cosgrove with the go-ahead run.
Hyndman scored first in the fourth inning when Mazy Diehl, who had reached on a fielder's choice, scored from second on Christine Myers' single inside the first-base bag.
"I couldn't be more proud of this group of girls,'' Dawson said of his Hyndman team.
Rickabaugh could say the same thing about her Tussey players.
"We kept working and growing together as a team this year,'' she said. "We had a wonderful season, but we weren't the ones who thought we'd be leaving here with a loss today.''
H.O.P.E. FOR HYNDMAN (2): Cosgrove ss 411, Willison c 401, Ringler p 301, Diehl cf 410, Wilt 1b-3b 101, Taylor 1b 000, Sanders 3b 300, Myers 2b 301, May rf 300, Snyder lf 301. Totals - 28-2-6.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (1): Snyder rf 400, Angelo c 411, Ramsey 3b 302, T. Curfman p 300, J. Brumbaugh pr 000, Kaminsky cf 200, Drenning lf 000, Watkins dh 300, Reffner ss 300, M. Brumbaugh 1b 300, E. Curfman 2b 201. Totals - 27-1-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
H.O.P.E. For Hyndman000 100 1-2 6 1
Tussey Mountain000 001 0-1 4 2
E-Sanders, Kaminsky, Reffner. RBI-Kaminsky, Ringler, Myers. LOB -Tussey 8, H.O.P.E. for Hyndman 6. SB -Sanders, Wilt. HBP -T. Curfman by Ringler.
H.O.P.E. FOR HYNDMAN: Ringler (W); 7IP, 4H, 1R, 1 ER, 11SO, 3BB.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN: T. Curfman (L); 7IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 5SO, 3BB.
Records: H.O.P.E. for Hyndman (14-7); Tussey Mountain (11-7).