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Redbank Valley outlasts Kittanning in softball opener

| Thursday, March 27, 2014, 11:12 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Kittanning's Maggie McCanna stretches out for the ball at third as Redbank Valley's Kara Hicks slides in safe during the third inning on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Kittanning's Emily Fries fields a ball agains Redbank Valley on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

The weather might keep softball teams off the field, but that just leaves extra time for the batting cages.

Lauren Rearick scored on an error in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that was the deciding run for Redbank Valley in a nondistrict win over Kittanning, 11-10, in both teams' season opener Thursday in New Bethlehem.

The Wildcats (0-1) finished with an edge in hits over the Bulldogs, 13-11, but Kittanning was never able to pull ahead after Redbank Valley (1-0) surged into the lead with a nine-run third inning.

“I'm just glad to get the win, because Kittanning has a pretty good program,” Redbank Valley coach John Sayers said. “We sometimes hit well in the cage but don't take it to the game. But we thought we could hit. I think our defense will improve, and these two freshmen (pitchers) will get more under their belts. We'll do fine.”

Georgie Shoop started off the big hitting day with a solo home run to left field that gave Kittanning a 1-0 lead in the first inning. That score held up until the third, when the Bulldogs caught fire.

Kara Hicks had a leadoff double, and Mackenzie Pence tied the game with an RBI single three batters later. A Kittanning error — one of five in the game — helped prolong the inning, and Redbank Valley's next nine batters reached base with eight singles and a walk to give the Bulldogs a 9-1 lead.

Kittanning battled back in the top of the fourth, when Emily Fries and Jordan Emminger drove in runs. A two-run triple by Terra Schall and an unearned run cut the margin to 9-6.

“Our girls never gave up, and that's a perfect thing for us to see,” Kittanning coach Tom Emminger said. “We've been like that for a few years now. When we have a run — or a lot of runs — scored on us, we come back and score on them.”

The Wildcats pulled even at 9-9 in the fifth after back-to-back RBI singles by Emminger and Schall, but the lead was short-lived after a sacrifice bunt by Pence set up Megan Bain, who scored from third on another error.

“When you have a big inning, the next inning is when you want to shut the other team down because that's when they're going to respond,” Sayers said. “If we could've done that, we could've stopped that cycle (Kittanning) got into.”

Kittanning again tied the game on an RBI double by Emily Kutch in the top of the sixth, but Rearick — a courtesy runner after a hit by Darian Gruver — scored the winning run on another Wildcats error.

“It's our first time out. Defensively, I thought we were good, but we could've been a little bit better,” Tom Emminger said. “We put nine or 10 good hits out there, but we also hit some line drives that went right at somebody, and sometimes it's going to happen that way.”

Kittanning threatened to tie the game again in the seventh, but a diving stop and toss to first by second baseman Pence recorded the final out with two Wildcats on base.

Freshman Macy Shumaker pitched 1 23 scoreless innings of relief to get the win for the Bulldogs. Freshman starter Alyssa Burkett allowed 10 runs — six earned — in 5 13 innings. Hicks and Pence each drove in two runs.

Kutch pitched the complete game for Kittanning, and while she took the loss, her ERA was mostly unharmed because only one of her 11 runs allowed was earned.

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