By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
After the Geneva softball team dropped an eight-inning Premier Athletic Conference clash with Madison on Tuesday, it spotted Chardon a lead on Wednesday. Coach Eleshia Pitcher had seen enough and let her team know it in no uncertain terms.
“She was ticked,” Geneva hurler, and the coaches’ daughter, Amy Pitcher said. “That’s all that needs to be said. She was ticked.”
The Eagles got the message loud and clear and rebounded for a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Hilltoppers.
“I told them they needed to get going,” Eleshia Pitcher said. “It was like a repeat of (Tuesday). We started the game the same way. We gave them some runs. I told them they needed to start fielding the ball.
“I told them if they wanted to stay on top of the PAC, they needed to field the ball and make some adjustments.”
Chardon used a four-run second to get out to a 5-0 lead through two and a half innings.
The Eagles (10-2, 8-1) began making those adjustments in the home half of the third. Nicole Grimmett, Amy Pitcher and Sarah Depp all singled to load the bases with one out, but Chardon pitcher Steph Hunter worked out of the jam with a strikeout and pop-up.
Geneva went back to work in the fourth. Taylor Stoltz and Jamie Verno provided back-to-back one-out singles to get the ball rolling.
Sydney McCaleb singled home Stoltz and Grimmett singled home Verno and McCaleb to get the Eagles within a pair, 5-3. Sarah Depp’s two-out single scored Brandy Catanese, running for Grimmett, and Kaylin Hansen singled home Depp to knot the score, 5-5.
“It felt good to hit,” Grimmett, who had three hits and drove in three, said. “I just needed to put it in play to try to push the runs across. When everyone’s up, it’s easier (to hit). When we get on a roll, we all seem to put the ball in play.
“When everyone’s hitting, we get up and we’re excited. I get focused in when everybody else is hitting.”
“We buttoned up the defense,” Eleshia Pitcher said. “Hitting is contagious. When one of them hits, the next one hits. When we’re fielding badly, we’re all fielding badly. When we’re hitting well, we’re all hitting well.”
There was one hiccup left for the Eagles, however, and it gave the lead back to the Hilltoppers.
Shannon Kuerr led off the Chardon fifth with a double and moved to third on a ground out by Chantel Daugherty. She scored when the Eagles thought she strayed too far down the line and chanced a throw. The ball went into left field and Kuerr scampered home.
Verno singled with one out in the fifth, but was erased as McCaleb reached on a fielder’s choice. Grimmett’s double to left-center plated McCaleb to tie the game at 6-6.
Amy Pitcher then dropped a bunt right in front of the dish in trying to move Catanese, again running for Grimmett, to third. The throw went into right field, allowing Catanese to score. After another errant throw, Amy Pitcher was standing on third and Geneva led, 7-6.
“It was ironic (to score the go-ahead run on errors),” Eleshia Pitcher said. “You’ve got to take advantage of them when they’re there. Usually, we hit the ball hard. I tell them if we put it in play, magical things can happen.
“Most importantly, they didn’t give up. It would have been easy to give up.”
Amy Pitcher (8-1) retired nine of the final 10 Hilltoppers to step in the box to record the victory. She allowed six runs — four earned — on eight hits in fanning 11, walking two and hitting two.
“I say she has ice in her veins,” Eleshia Pitcher said. “Nothing seems to bother her. But after yesterday and today with that start and us not fielding the ball, she was a little upset.
“I told her she needed to get it under control. She had to control what she did in the circle and then everyone had to control their own spot.”
Hunter (1-4) took the loss in allowing six earned runs on seven hits. She struck out four and walked one.
Chardon (4-6, 1-4) used an RBI single from Haley Ahlman, a two-run double from Hunter and an Eagle error to go up, 4-0, in the top of the second. The Hilltoppers got another run in the third on a Ahlman’s RBI single.
“What’s been our trouble all year is we take the good pitches and we swing at the bad ones,” Chardon coach Max McCrone said. “I told them to go up and attack today. They did about as good hitting the ball as they could have against a good pitcher like Amy Pitcher. That’s the breaks in baseball.
“That’s what we haven’t been getting all year. We get nine or 10 hits, but they’re spaced out. We get on, but we can’t get the hits when we need them. Today, we got the hits. We just needed one more.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.