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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

MICHELLE OLSON OF Liberty throws a pitch in Wednesday’s game. She kept Tuxedo scoreless for seven innings.

Liberty Defeated
Extra Innings

By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY–April 26, 2002 — It was scoreless after seven innings Wednesday afternoon, but in the eighth inning the offenses broke loose.
In the top of the eighth, the visiting Lady Tornadoes of Tuxedo (5-2, 4-0 Division IV) sent four runners across the plate. In the bottom of the frame, the Liberty Lady Indians (5-2, 3-2 Division IV) rallied with two runs, but it was a classic case of too little a bit too late.
As a result, Tuxedo defeated Liberty, 4-2, in the OCIAA Division IV softball game.
As the game progressed, the home team coaches and bullpen sounded a bit like their major league counterparts. If the volume of chatter and yells out to the mound of “Let’s go, kid!” could have carried the day, Liberty would have won hands down. But in the clutch, it wasn’t enough.
The game shaped up as a battle of senior pitchers, as Tuxedo’s Shannon Quinn squared off against Liberty’s Michelle Olson.
Liberty got out of trouble early after a bobbled ball and a hit batter placed runners at first and second in the top of the first. But Olson regained her poise and put away the opposition.
A few missed plays from both sides of the bench and some sluggish sluggers kept the game scoreless until the eighth.
In the top of that decisive inning, Tuxedo’s Krystle Paccione led off with a base hit. Katie Dolan then reached on a bunt. With nobody out, Olson threw the ball away while attempting to pick off Dolan at first base, a misfire that placed runners at second and third. After Olson struck out Jess Comerford, Paccione scored on a passed ball.
Katelyn Melzig then bunted for the Lady Tornadoes. On the fielder’s choice, Dolan got in under the tag at the plate to put Tuxedo up by a 2-0 margin.
After Desiree Hofmann popped out to the Liberty shortstop Andrea TerBush for Tuxedo’s second out, Terri Verbovsky reached on a single to put runners at the corners. Shannon Quinn’s RBI single then scored Hofmann to make it a 3-0 ball game.
Verbovsky crossed the plate on a passed ball to end the inning for Tuxedo.
Lady Indians Sara Crescitelli and Rebecca Cohen went down swinging to start off the bottom of the eighth.
With two outs and the future looking rather bleak for Liberty, Kristen Ahrens breathed some life into the home team game with a base hit.
Then the Lady Indians’ leadoff batter, Chelsea LaGatutta, stepped up to the plate and put on a remarkable performance in a “never say die” at- bat. A total of 14 pitches later – including nine foul balls – LaGatutta singled to keep the Liberty rally going. A few moments later, a Tuxedo error allowed both Ahrens and LaGatutta to score.
Katie Yaun doubled and tried to leg it into a triple on a Tuxedo overthrow. But Lady Tornado first baseman Dolan fired an inspired underhand peg to third for the final out of the game.
“It was an excellently played game on both sides,” Tuxedo coach Jim Lloyd said. “I expected them to be tough, and they were.”
Reflecting on the extra-inning win, Lloyd said, “We got a couple of lucky breaks . . . we kept pressure on their infield, and they made a couple of mistakes. Both pitchers were outstanding.”
John Wilhelm took the loss in stride, calling the season “very good so far”, despite dropping the last two contests – against Tri-Valley on Tuesday (a 6-2 defeat) and the loss to Tuxedo.
“I thought we played a great game,” Wilhelm said. “We made some key plays that we had to make to keep it zero-zero going into the top of the eighth.”
In praising the pitching talents of Olson, whom he’s coached for six seasons, Wilhelm said she performed “great against Sullivan West (a 2-0 win) and Monticello (a 7-3 victory)” in preceeding games.
“Michelle (Olson) pitched seven scoreless innings for us this afternoon, and Chelsea (LaGatutta) had a great at bat with two outs,” added the Lady Indian coach.

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