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IAC SOFTBALL: S-VE FALLS TO TIOGA, 14-4, IN TIE-BREAKER (2021-06-01)

BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — A questionable call and a Tioga run surge proved costly for Spencer-Van Etten, which dropped a 14-4 IAC South Small School softball tie-breaker to the Tigers here Tuesday.

"They outplayed us," S-VE coach Ron Miller said. "They played defense better than us. They went and got it. They wanted it a little bit more than us. I'm a little disappointed with the way we played today."

Tioga is good at rallying together as a team to stay in games. When S-VE went ahead with a three-run third inning, but appeared to get rattled when its at-bats were halted by what the Panthers felt was a questionable call, the Tigers saw an opportunity to pounce.

"They're good at that rally," Tioga coach Heather Klossner said. "You see them start to waver; I preach to them about being stoic and having fun, and as soon as a team starts to read that you're wavering, then they should jump all over you. We can't show them that we are, but we need to read that and be ready to keep it going."

The scoring surge began with the score tied at four in the bottom of the fourth, with two outs in the book and the bases loaded. Austyn Vance hit a soft single behind first base and the throw home was offline. Then, an attempt to throw a runner out at second took a bad hop into the outfield. Abby Foley, who singled, Kindra Wessels, who walked, and courtesy runner Emily Sindoni all scored to give the Tigers the lead for good at 7-4.

Tioga would increase its lead on back-to-back triples by Alissa Hine and Julia Bellis. Hine belted a a ball over the left fielder's head, plating Vance, and Bellis drilled one to right to score Hine. An errors off the bat of Molly Bombard closed out the scoring in the inning as Bellis crossed the plate, giving the Tigers a 10-4 cushion.

"When you see a team start to crumble, you jump all over them," Klossner said.

"Twelve unearned runs. We can not give anyone 12 unearned runs. That's ridiculous," Miller said. "Dropped balls that should have been caught." According to the Tioga scorebook, the Tigers only scored five unearned runs.

S-VE struggled to climb back in the game. Faith Brenchley singled to lead off the fifth, but was left at first, then the Panthers went down 1-2-3 in the sixth. Sydney Presher led off the seventh with a base hit to right, but S-VE would pop out to the pitcher and second baseman. Raegan Sudnikovich followed with a walk, but Hine would snag a fly ball in right to end the game.

Meanwhile, the Tigers added a pair of runs to their advantage in the fifth and tacked on two more in the sixth.

In the fifth, Olivia Ayres reached on an error, Foley singled, Mykenzie Thetga was hit by a pitch and Hine smacked a two-out double to left to score Foley and Sindoni.

In the sixth, Gabby Foley dropped a base hit into shallow right center, Abby Foley hit a ground ball single to center and Gabby Foley scored, then Wessels singled, scoring Abby Foley.

Klossner attributes the team's success to the players' work ethic.

"We've been working real hard on cleaning some things up and the girls are very honest about what they need to work on and we can kind of personalize practice that way. Jim (assistant coach Wood) has been helping a lot with individual things where I can work with the whole team. One girl can go with him, or one set of outfield or infield. They work hard."

The game started out with the Sudnikovich smacking a two-out double to left only to have Wessels strike out the next batter to end the threat. Tioga responded with a double from Ayres to start its half of the inning and two batters later, she scored the game's first run on a Wessels sacrifice bunt. Thetga singled and Vance reached on a dropped third strike, but Gillian Jackman threw the runner out at the plate attempting to steal, avoiding any further damage.

A pair of S-VE errors allowed the Tigers to make it 2-0 in the second, but the Panthers would battle back to take the lead in the third. Presher go the rally going with a single to right, Rhiana Lawrence walked, Brenchley singles and Presher scored on an error off the bat of Sudnikovich. Christina Beebe's single to center plated Lawrence and Brenchley tallied on a passed ball to give the visitors a 3-2 edge.

The S-VE half of the inning ended amid a questionable call. Beebe was called for the third out after the base umpire ruled she didn't tag up at second base on a fly ball to center field. Beebe claimed she tagged up, moved off the bag, then was returning to the bag when the throw-in from the outfield arrived at the bag before her. Miller attempted to get the call overturned, but was unsuccessful.

"Christina's pretty smart," Miller said. "She said she was tagging up and then she took off, and then stopped and came back. The umpire said he saw her never tag up. Christina normally gets on the base and tags up."

Had it remained a close game, that call may have carried more weight.

"I think if it was a one-run game, that's a big deal, two-run, three-run, but that kind of call, I think even for both sides, kind of wavers you and you're uneasy and we just pushed it in the past. It's happened. Let's keep it moving," Klossner said. "You can't let one good or bad call, however you look at it, determine how you play the rest of the game. You can't let it get in your head. Miller added he was watching his player at third based and didn't see the play in question.

Tioga went up, 4-3, in its half of the third following singles by Thetga and Vance, and a passed ball allowed Sindoni to score.

That lead wouldn't last long as S-VE tied the game in the fourth as Taya Sousa hit a two-out single to left, stole second and scored following Presher's base hit.

At the plate, it was a solid team effort by the Tigers as all 10 players contributed to the scoring output. Abby Foley led the 15-hit attack with three hits. She also had three runs and an RBI. Vance and Hine contributed two hits, two runs an three RBI apiece; Bellis chipped in with two hits, a run and two RBI; Ayres had two hits and a run; Thetga tacked on a pair of hits; Wessels had a hit, run and RBI; Sindoni scored three runs; Gabby Foley added a hit and a run; and Bombard drove in a run.

For the Panthers, Presher registered three hits, a run and an RBI; Brenchley notched two hits and a run; Sudnikovich and Beebe had one hit and one RBI each; Sousa had a hit and a run; Jackman pitched in with a hit and Lawrence scored a run.

"A couple of the kids hit the ball pretty good," Miller noted.

Wessels and Lawrence struck out five and walked two apiece. Wessels scattered nine hits.

Tioga (10-3, 9-2 IAC) plays Union Springs (8-0) in the IAC semifinals at Wells College in Aurora Thursday. The game also serves as the Small School championship.

S-VE (11-3) will now focus on preparing for the Section IV Class C tournament.

"I'm going to call a couple people tonight and I'm going to try and get two more games in this week," Miller said.

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IN PHOTO 1: S-VE's Faith Brenchley. ... PHOTO BY TIM TAYLOR.

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