Rivalry sparks solid efforts from Ford City, Kittanning in softball showdown
The area's biggest rivalry came together on the softball field, and the result was both teams winding down the season with one of their best performances.
Kittanning pitcher Emily Kutch struck out six and allowed only five hits in a complete-game effort, as she and the Wildcats made an early lead hold up for a nonsection win over Ford City, 2-1, on Tuesday in Manorville.
Shortstop Terra Schall scored both runs for Kittanning (3-10) after leading off the game with a double and leading off the third inning with a single.
Kutch and Breanna McGaughey delivered RBI base hits to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
“It's always good to finish the season against them. It's nonsection, but it's still good to win, and it's always fun to play against Ford City,” Schall said.
Ford City (5-11) pitcher Jess Jubec threw a strong complete game, only allowing five hits. After allowing the second run in the third inning, Jubec walked Kittanning's Meg Toy before retiring the final 13 batters.
The teams combined to play what was likely the fastest seven-inning game of the season for either. Kittanning committed only two errors, and Ford City was error-free, which brought the rivalry game to an end in fewer than 90 minutes.
“We played really well yesterday (in a doubleheader), too, and I think we really picked it up toward the end of the season,” Ford City shortstop Bethany Meyer said.
“We've come through a lot of tough games, and while it would've been nice to win more of them, I'm proud of the team for what they did this year.”
Kittanning could have padded its lead in the third inning, but Ford City center fielder Christina Davis made a perfect throw to home to record the out on Alexis Adams, who also tried to score on McGaughey's single.
Ford City had chances to stage a comeback in each of the final two innings.
In the sixth, Jubec reached first safely with a two-out single, and a throwing error by the Wildcats allowed her to go from first to third. Karlee Smith struck out and attempted to go to first on a passed ball, but she was called out to end the inning on a close play.
The Sabers got on the board in the seventh after back-to-back singles by Lexi Turek and Davis to lead off the inning. Turek advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out.
Pinch hitter Abby Boguslawski cut the lead to 2-1 by driving in Turek with a groundout to first, but Sabers' leadoff hitter Lexi Myers was unable to beat out a ground ball and keep the game going for Ford City's 2-3-4 hitters.
“I was definitely hoping for that one last at-bat,” said Meyer, who was waiting on deck. “It didn't happen, and it's a little disappointing, but it'll be all right.”
Ford City and Kittanning will meet twice next year, when the Wildcats drop down from Class AAA to the Sabers' Section 3-AA. For Meyer and Ford City's other three seniors, however, Tuesday's game was the final outing in a Sabers' uniform.
“I played with a lot of the (Kittanning) girls in Little League, so it was nice to play them for our last game,” Meyer said. “I hope the girls coming back keep a positive attitude and just continue to improve.”
Kittanning only has three graduating seniors of its own, and just two — Schall and Kutch — played Tuesday. They still have one game left on their schedule, a nonsection home game Wednesday against another future section opponent, Burrell.
“We've had trouble with errors all season, so it was nice that we minimized the errors and capitalized on our opportunities today,” Schall said. “We played well against Burrell last year, so we're looking forward to that. It's a good way to end the season.”