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SECTION IV SOFTBALL: OWEGO FALLS TO FORKS IN CLASS B QUARTERFINALS (24 PHOTOS) (2019-05-28)

BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — Owego started strong and ended strong, but Chenango Forks stole the momentum in between to defeat the Indians, 9-7, in a Section IV Class B quarterfinal clash here Tuesday.

It wasn’t for a lack of putting the bat on the ball. Owego was connecting throughout the contest, but the Forks fielders just seemed to have ball magnets in their glove.

“Putting the ball in play is what we ask them to do and they were doing that,” said Owego head Coach Kerri Lavender. “I think there was a point in time where they were doubting themselves a little bit. Sometimes that plays a factor. We just had conversation. You’ve got to believe in yourself all the time. You’ve got to persevere.

“We were able to kick it back up towards the end, which wasn’t enough.”

The Blue Devils overcame an early three-run deficit and trailing, 3-1, took the lead for good with a three-run fourth. They were able to hold off the home team with four much-needed runs in the top of the seventh.

In the fourth, a lead-off walk to Liz Wrighter, and bunts by Bailey Haywood and Hannah Fuller would bring Brianna Ramstine to the plate with runners at second and third. Ramstine hit a shot to the right of second baseman Grace Thomas, who was able to get a glove on the ball and keep it from going into the outfield. Michelle Boyle would lay down another fielder’s choice bunt to successfully load the bases for Avery Copeland, who smacked a two-run double down the left field line to give Forks a 4-3 edge.

The Devils made it 5-3 in the fifth after Wrighter smacked one into he outfield and knocked the ball loose on the tag at third. Two batters later, she scored on Fuller’s single to shallow left.

The Owego half of the fifth provide detrimental to the Indians’ effort as they loaded the bases with one down, but came away empty. Thomas hit a one-out single up the middle, and Aubel and Shirley followed with walks, but Thomas and Aubel were erased on force outs at the plate following a ground ball to the pitcher and a dropped third strike.

Owego got a run back in the sixth after Emma Howe singled to right, Emma Stephenson singled to left and Grace Thomas drilled a single between a diving third baseman and shortstop.

In the seventh, the Devils picked up the necessary runs to stave off the home team. With their team clinging to a 5-4 lead, Marissa Will doubled to right and Sydney Young walked. Wrighter followed with an RBI double off the fence, but Owego would throw Young out at the plate. Haywood would lay down a bunt and reach on a fielder’s choice. Fuller followed with a two-run single to right-center and came around to score when the throw scooted into center during an attempt to throw her out at second, giving CF a 9-4 cushion.

The Indians tried to create a two-out rally in their final at-bats. Summer Pierce singled to left, Anna Felice singled to right and Jordan Greeno reached on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice. With the bases stoked, Howe laced a line-drive triple to right-center, clearing the bases and closing the gap to 9-7. Unfortunately for Owego, Young would strike out the next batter to end the game.

It was two-out rally which gave the Indians an early 3-0 advantage in the bottom of the first. After Chelsea Sellars struck out three of the first four batters, Owego stepped to the plate to parlay a walk and three hits into a 3-0 lead.

Howe would start the Indians off with a walk then, with two away, Taylor Aubel would hit a soft single just inside the right field line about 25 feet behind first and scamper to second on the throw in from the outfield. Abby Shirley singled to center to score two, and Sellars doubled to center to make it 3-0.

Forks would strand to runners in scoring position in the second, but get on the scoreboard in the third on back-to-back doubles by Avery Copeland and Grace Cadden.

Sellars struck out nine batters, but surrendered 10 hits while walking four.

Lavender knew the Devils would bring their bats.

“That’s expected. They always do, and we came in knowing that they were going to hit the ball,” she said. “That’s part of the game. Hits are going to happen. Runs are going to happen and we have to do the same, but they outhit us today.”

All nine Indian starters contributed offensively. Howe was 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base; Thomas and Sellars both went 2-for-4 with an RBI; Greeno was 2-for-3 with a run; Aubel was 1-for-2 with a run and two walks; Stephenson went 2-for-5 and Shirley was 1-for-3 with a run, walk and RBI. Pierce and Felice added one hit and one run apiece.

“I’m really proud of them,” Lavender said. “It’s good group of girls and I’m going to miss them.”

Owego graduates six seniors.

“We’ve got lot of work to do, but that comes with every season.”

The Indians finish the season with a 6-11 record while Forks (9-5) visits top-seeded Susquehanna Valley (13-2) Thursday.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Emma Stephenson. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.


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