BEDFORD – The Chestnut Ridge softball team twice was down to its final at-bat, trailing by a run in a PIAA Class 2A playoff game against Shenango on a steamy Monday afternoon at Bedford High School.
The District 5 champion Lions extended the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh, and Chestnut Ridge won it via a two-run bottom of the 10th.
The Lions (18-6) beat the District 7 runner-up Wildcats 3-2 in 10 innings and earned a spot opposite District 7 third-place Ligonier Valley in the PIAA quarterfinal round on at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at Mount Aloysius College.
“I’m not going to lie. I was out there shaking a little bit,” said Chestnut Ridge senior shortstop Isabella Wingard, who scored the game-tying run after starting the 10th inning on second base per the extra-inning rule.
“We had a big hitter up. I was like, ‘She’s going to score me, but how?’
“Whenever I was standing on second, I had the nerves going through me, but we’re a team that fights until the very end. I knew we were going to take the game at the end.”
With the Lions trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 10th, clean-up batter Alyssa Henderson smacked a hard shot that caromed off pitcher Mia Edwards’ glove and resulted in an infield hit to put runners on the corners with no outs.
“When I go to the plate, I don’t think about what inning it is,” Henderson said. “I just think about what I need to do as a batter. I always work better under pressure. I was just thinking about moving up Belle.”
Henderson stole second and her aggressive slide presented Wingard the chance to score from third.
“I always go hard no matter what,” Henderson said. “Isabella is a fast runner, so I knew even if I got out she was going to be safe at home. That was our main goal.”
Mya Wingard’s sacrifice bunt moved Henderson to third base with one out.
Shenango (16-6) coach Pat Quahliero and his staff intentionally walked the next two hitters to load the bases.
“Great move,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “That way it was a force play at home. I would do the exact same thing.”
No. 8 hitter Ava Snider fell behind 0-2 in the count before lifting a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Henderson with the game-winning run.
“A freshman,” Lazor said. “She’s played for us sparingly, a fill in. We have a senior starter (Lauryn Calhoun) who got hurt and couldn’t play today. She came up big.”
Shenango pitcher Edwards allowed only four hits while striking out 11. She faced only three batters in six of 10 innings.
“That pitcher over there is outstanding,” Lazor said of Edwards. “We knew coming in it was going to be hard to earn some runs off of her. We have a good pitcher ourselves and we had faith in her. Both pitchers did a good job.”
Chestnut Ridge junior Zoie Dunlap allowed seven hits, with seven strikeouts. She fanned two batters in the top of the ninth to strand three Wildcats baserunners.
The eighth and ninth extra innings were played in traditional fashion, but in the 10th, each team began the inning with a runner at second base.
Shenango’s Kelsey Campbell scored on Bri DeSalvo’s lead-off single to right field to make it 2-1 in the 10th.
After Edwards and Dunlap each had retired the first six batters they faced through two innings, Shenango scored a run in the third. Kam Robertson walked, stole second and scored when a DeSalvo two-out pop up was misplayed.
Isabella Wingard scored the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh. She singled to center, stole second and tagged to third on a Henderson fly out to right field. The relay throw got away, allowing Wingard to score and make it 1-all.
“Isabella got a base hit, our senior leader,” Lazor said. “She has great speed and stole second to get into scoring position. Henderson, who has been solid for us, putting the ball in play, made something happen by hitting a fly ball to the other field.
“Putting pressure on them, making them throw the ball a little bit. Tag up. Lucky for us it got by them. We’ll take it.”
Isabella Wingard had another opportunity to tie it in the 10th.
“I saw the ball hit directly off her glove and I saw it hit the dirt. As soon as that ball hit the dirt, I went directly to third base,” Wingard said of Henderson’s infield hit.
“Alyssa has some speed,” Wingard said of the first-and-third play. “Whenever she was going from first to second, as soon as that ball hit second base, I was darting straight home. I thought, ‘This is going to work out in our favor.’ ”
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.