By Rob Potter
ELDRED A spirited rally by the Eldred softball team came up a bit short on Friday afternoon.
Trailing the visiting S.S. Seward Lady Spartans by an 8-2 margin, Eldred scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh.
But Seward held on to record an 8-6 victory in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI game.
Faced with a six-run deficit, the Lady Yellowjackets were determined to at least tie the score in their final at-bat and force extra innings. Heather Ouellette got Eldred (2-9, 0-2 Div. VI) started with a leadoff triple to deep left field. She scored easily when the next batter, Kaitlin Terry, singled to center field.
Terry scored on a passed ball moments later to cut the Lady Spartans’ lead to 8-4.
After Terry crossed the plate, Jillian Harris and Lauren Hazen hit consecutive singles. The next batter, Kim Elvin, grounded out. But Seward first baseman Caitlin Lemire’s throw to catcher Dana Vazquez was off the mark. Both Harris and Hazen scored on the error to make it an 8-6 game.
That was as close as the Lady Yellowjackets would get, however, as Seward pitcher Michelle Dugan got the next batter to ground out to end the game and preserve her team’s victory.
Seward (6-6, 3-1 Div. VI) took the lead in the top of the first inning. Leadoff batter Elizabeth Gorshack singled to right field and promptly stole second base. She came around to score when Susie Collins ripped a single to right field.
The Lady Spartans extended their advantage to 3-0 in the top of the second on an Eldred error and a fielder’s choice grounder.
The score remained 3-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning. Rachel Hofaker led off for the Lady Yellowjackets and blasted a triple to right field. Two batters later, Hofaker scored on Ouellette’s base hit to cut Seward’s lead to 3-1.
But the Lady Spartans responded with five runs in the top of the sixth.
With one out and the bases loaded, Gorshack singled to bring in Vivien Greiser and Shannon O’Sullivan.
Collins then grounded out, but she earned an RBI because Tori Varrone crossed the plate on the play.
Gorshack scored on Dugan’s triple to deep left center field to make it a 7-1 game. Dugan then scored on Vazquez’s single to give the Lady Spartans a seven-run cushion.
Eldred got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Elvin singled to center field. Rachel Smith then smacked a triple to right field to bring Elvin in to score.
Seward Coach Don Lewis was relieved to be leaving Sullivan County with a victory.
“I’m glad it’s over,” he said moments after the contest concluded. “We had a big inning where we hit very well.
“That’s the thing about softball, anything can happen,” Lewis continued. “You can have a 6-0 lead and all of a sudden it can be tied at 6-6.”
Lewis praised Eldred Coach Jolene Porter and her players.
“She always has them ready to play,” he said. “Eldred competes and they always play hard.”
Despite the fact that her team ended up on the short end of the final score, Porter was pleased following the game. She noted that half of her players were on the Eldred junior varsity team last spring and are still adjusting to playing at the varsity level.
“I am very happy,” she said. “We hit the ball well and played good defense today. This is the closest we’ve been to Seward in the seasons I have been coaching the varsity team.”
Porter was especially happy with how the Lady Yellowjackets responded after falling behind early in the game.
“I am very proud of them,” she commented. “There is no quit in my team. They kept playing hard for the whole game.”