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SECTION IV SOFTBALL: RED-HOT OWEGO ROLLS OVER TIOGA (2023-05-13)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — The past eight days have been tough for the Tioga softball team while Owego has been on Cloud 9 during the same span.

That was the case Friday as the Indians ran away with a 15-3, 5-inning non-league victory.

The win was Owego’s fifth straight, although the Tigers did halt the Indians’ string of consecutive shutouts at four. During that stretch, Owego has outscored its opponents, 71-3.

Owego coach Elise Fortier noted that her team has been playing well recently, not just against Tioga.

“I think it's not just today,” she said. “We started off this year playing the better competition in the league and it was kind of like a where are we going to fall kind of thing. We were pretty close in most of the games with the better competition early in the year, but it was kind of a gut punch.”

Meanwhile, Tioga has dropped five in a row, including losses to IAC South Large School nemeses Elmira Notre Dame, Edison and Waverly, and Union Springs in the IAC South championship game.

“This week has been rough,” Tioga coach Heather Klossner said. “It's been a lot of really good teams and it's starting to wear on us a little bit, but going into sectionals, that's what you want. You don't want easy games that you're not getting anything out of. You want to play teams where you know you can improve.

Klossner could see that Owego seems to be peaking and applauded the Indians’ effort.

“They played a great game. They've got some good athletes, Carsten (Crawford) pitched really well. I tried to give both of our pitchers a little bit of work going into tomorrow. We're gonna see them again and so, hopefully, we can give them a better game.”

“I don't know what it actually is, but she might be averaging up to 10 strikeouts a game,” Fortier said of Crawford, who fanned nine Tioga batters, walked three and scattered five hits. “She's doing a really good job for us, especially as a freshman.

“When she's on and she's throwing pretty hard, that's when she gets the most amount of swings and misses obviously, but also she's getting more movement with her pitches and less walks.”

Crawford, twirling one of her better games of the season, retired the side to start the game.

Her counterpart, Erin Luther, walked the first two batters, then gave up a run on a fielder’s choice by Jordan Greeno. Sarah Terry followed with a two-run single. A walk and a hit batter preceded an error off the bat of Maia Smith, plating Saylor Ayers for a 4-0 lead.

Luther struck out the next two batters to halt any further damage.

The Tigers got a run back in the top of the second thanks to walks to McKenzie Williams and Emily Shiner, and an error following Megan Shumway’s single to center field.

A walk to Miley Laubach followed by a triple from Natalie Donovan started another four run surge in the bottom of the inning. Greeno was hit by pitch, Terry brought Donvan home with ground out, Ayers singled to score Greeno and Maddie Bennett scored Ayers with a single to make it 8-1.

Tioga tried to rally behind a Jade Keaty triple to start the third, Rae Anne Feeko walked and Keaty scored on a passed ball, cutting the gap to 8-2.

Walks to Francisco and Laubach came before an RBI single from Donovan, then Ayers belted a two-run single to push the lead to 11-2.

Shiner singled in the fourth, but was stranded in scoring position.

An error off the bat of Bennett, back-to-back singles from Smith and Ashton Dalton, a two-run double from Francisco and an RBI ground out by Laubach gave the Indians a 15-2 cushion.

Feeko doubled to start the seventh and tallied on a Williams single to close out the scoring.

Williams led Tioga with a hit, run and RBI; Feeko and Keaty contributed one hit and one run apiece; and Shiner and Shumway added one hit each.

The Indians received three hits, three runs and two RBI from Donovan; two hits, two runs and three RBI from Ayers; two hits and three RBI from Terry; three runs and one RBI from Laubach; two runs and an RBI by Greeno; a hit, two runs and two RBI from Francisco; a hit, run and RBI each by Bennett and Smith; and a hit and a run from Dalton.

“I think that our bats are really hot right now and we're kind of firing on all cylinders,” Fortier said. “Our defense is getting better, so I'd much rather have this than starting off hot at the beginning of the year and having a rough time at the end.

“Overall, this is just another example of what the last couple games have been like for us. We're just piecing it together and figuring out the lineup that's really working for us.”

Tioga (9-5), Owego (7-6) and Union-Endicott play one another today at U-E in the Mary Testa Tournament make-up games.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s Saylor Ayers. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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