Lady Bulldogs rally for win

CLAYSBURG — For the Claysburg-Kimmel High School softball team, it’s been a matter of better late than never this spring.

“That’s been the story of our season,” Claysburg coach Mike Barbarini said. “We seem to let (the opposing team) get ahead, then, in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, we decide that we’re going to play.”

That trend continued on a glorious, sun-drenched late Monday afternoon at the Claysburg-Kimmel High School softball field, when the Lady Bulldogs spotted Portage an early 4-1 lead before rallying for a 9-4 victory in a matchup that pitted two of the top teams in District 6 Class 1A.

Claysburg (9-2) bunched five hits and took advantage of two Portage errors to score five runs in the fifth inning and take a 7-4 lead.

“We scored runs,” Barbarini said. “The girls seem to get used to the pitching, it seems like they get more aggressive at the plate as the game goes on, and once they start hitting, they all start hitting.”

Center fielder Megan Hartman began Claysburg’s rally by reaching on an error. After shortstop Emily Claar’s single moved Hartman to second base, right fielder Jazmin Kennedy laid down a perfect bunt in front of home plate that allowed her to reach first base safely, and Claysburg to load the bases.

Catcher Harleigh Cavender was hit by a pitch to force in Hartman with the first run of the inning, and third baseman Haileigh Reed’s sacrifice fly scored Claar with the inning’s second run to tie the score, 4-4.

First baseman Madison Knisley’s single to right field scored Cavender, and left fielder Corryne Weyandt, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, scored when Knisley’s single was misplayed in the outfield.

Knisley scored from second on designated hitter Madison Frye’s single to left field to cap off the rally and give Claysburg the 7-4 lead.

“I think that at that point, everybody was determined that we needed to get those runs,” said Frye, a sophomore. “Everybody was amped up. At the beginning of the game, nobody was doing anything.”

Portage coach Brian Randall felt that things just unraveled for his team during the inning.

“That’s a tough one for us,” said Randall, whose squad dropped to 8-3. “We let some small things snowball, and we let things get out of control. Claysburg deserves credit. They took advantage when we made mistakes.”

Claysburg added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to salt away the victory. Claar doubled, Reed was intentionally walked, and both came home on a two-out error.

Claysburg sophomore right-hander Olivia Bushore pitched a solid complete game, spacing eight Portage hits and striking out 10 batters while walking just one.

After Claysburg opened the scoring on Reed’s solo homer just inside the left field foul marker in the second inning, Portage took a 4-1 lead with a run in the third inning and three more in the fourth.

In the third inning, shortstop Kara Dividock reached third on a Claysburg error and scored on first baseman Maryn Swank’s infield single. In the fourth inning, Dividock’s bases-loaded two-run double to left scored both courtesy runner Becca Pawvluk and left fielder Lindsey Sease. An error on the same play allowed center fielder Karli Karalfa, who had previously singled, to score all the way from first base.

Doubles by Cavender and Frye enabled Claysburg to cut the lead in half, 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, before the Lady Bulldogs staged their game-winning rally in the fifth.

Claysburg and Portage are jockeying with Glendale for the top three playoff spots in District 6, Class 1A.

“It’s a long season, there will be a lot of moving around before the playoffs, but this was a big game for us,” Barbarini said.

PORTAGE (4): Shaffer 2b 400, Dividock ss 412, Swank 1b-p 402, Benton 3b 302, Crum c 400, Kissell p-1b 301, Pawvluk cr 010, Sease lf 210, Giordano rf 200, Chobany ph 100, Karalfa cf 311. Totals — 30-4-8.

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (9): E. Claar ss 423, Kennedy rf 401, Cavender c 321, Reed 3b 121, Weyandt lf 411, Knisley 1b 411, Frye DH 302, R. Claar 2b 301, Hartman cf 310, Bushore p 000. Totals –29-9-11.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Portage 001 300 0–4 8 3

Claysburg-Kimmel 010 152 X–9 11 2

E–Shaffer, Swank, Giordano, Weyandt, Hartman. 2B–Dividock, E. Claar, Cavender, Frye. HR–Reed. RBI–Dividock 2, Swank, Reed 2, Frye 2, Cavender, Knisley. SF–Reed. SB–Cavender. CS–Weyandt (Crum to Dividock). HBP–Cavender by Swank. LOB–Portage 7, Claysburg-Kimmel 6.

PITCHING

PORTAGE: Kissell 4+IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 3SO, 1BB; Swank (L) 2 IP, 5H, 5R, 1ER, 1SO, 1BB.

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL: Bushore (W) 7IP, 8H, 4R, 2ER, 10SO, 1BB.

WP–Bushore.

Records: Portage (8-3); Claysburg-Kimmel (9-2).

Umpires: Bob Muth (plate); Jim Noye (bases).

Time of game: 2:01.

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