Defensive woes doom Lady Panthers

BEDFORD – Meyersdale needed only three hits and a little help from Northern Bedford’s defense to defeat the Lady Panthers, 6-4, in a District 5 Class A semifinal softball game on Tuesday at Bedford Area High School.

Isabella Miller got the Red Raiders on the board with an RBI double in the first and later scored after Panthers third baseman Hannah Stiffler threw away a perfectly bunted ball by Liv Kretchman.

“I felt that our small ball helped us out,” Meyersdale coach Jessica Deakins said. “We had a really pretty bunt from Liv Kretchman that got us going with those two runs.”

Northern Bedford starter Makenzie Eshelman took the loss, despite allowing only one earned run.

“If you go back and look at the stats, Makenzie threw a good game for us,” Northern Bedford coach Christa Moyer said. “We had some opportunities that we didn’t take ahold of.”

Meyersdale doubled its lead in the third inning, again taking advantage of Northern Bedford’s defensive struggles.

Jackie McKenzie reached on an error to start the inning, and Miller followed with an infield single. Both runners advanced when Eshelman’s third strike to Kretchman got by catcher Alexis Pearson.

Kaitlin Fritz hit a groundball that bounced off shortstop Kaity Corle’s glove and trickled into the outfield, allowing both runners to score.

“Maybe we didn’t come in and play as strong as we wanted to,” Moyer said. “We we’re a little more laid back in the field, and I would have liked to have seen us be a little more aggressive.”

The Red Raiders added two crucial insurance runs in the fourth.

After back-to-back walks to start the inning, and the top of the order due up, Eshelman struck out the next two Meyersdale hitters before Miller came to the plate.

Eshelman threw a wild pitch to Miller, and both runners came around to score while Pearson tried to collect the ball.

Northern Bedford finally broke through in the sixth. Corle and Lindsay Over both singled to start the rally, and Shiffler reached on an error by third baseman Erika Ritchey.

With the bases loaded, Eshelman drove in two runs with a single to left field. Pearson hit a ground ball past Ritchey to make it 6-3.

With runners on the corners and no outs, Sydney Lingenfelter hit a shallow fly ball to center field. McKenzie caught the ball and fired a strike to home plate, completing a pivotal double play.

Peyton Leidy tripled to make it 6-4, but Brittany Ebersole grounded out to end the inning.

Corle singled in the seventh, but Over popped out to center fielder McKenzie, who doubled off Corle to end the game.

“These are girls who won a district title last year,” Deakins said. “I’m waiting for them to decide that this is theirs to take.”

Top-seeded Meyersdale will face seventh-seeded Windber in Thursday’s final at Somerset.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (4): Corle ss 312, Over cf 411, Stiffler 3b 310, Eshelman P 302, Pearson c 310, Lingenfelter 1b 300, Leidy lf 301, Ebersole rf 300, Russell 2b 300. Totals-28-4-6.

MEYERSDALE (6): Cerreta ss 400, McKenzie cf 320, Miller c 222, L Kretchman rf 200, Fritz dh 300, K Kretchman 1b 200, Deakins P 301, Leonard 2b 210, Ritchey 210. Totals-23-6-4

SCORE BY INNINGS

Northern Bedford000 004 0 – 4 6 3

Meyersdale202 200 X – 6 4 3

E-Hershberger, Ritchey 2, Russell, Corle, Stiffler. 2B-Miller. 3B-Leidy. RBI-Eshelman 2, Leidy, Miller. WP-Deakins. LP-Eshelman. SO-Deakins 3, Eshelman 7. BB-Deakins 1, Eshelman 5.