BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — An early-season showdown between a pair of unbeaten Harrison County softball teams didn’t disappoint.
Lyda Sandy crossed the plate on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh inning, allowing Bridgeport to stay undefeated Wednesday with a 5-4 victory against Notre Dame.
“It was like a football game where the last one with the football has a good chance to win,” Bridgeport coach Larry “Rabbit” Snider said. “That’s exactly what it was. We used a little small ball.”
The Irish (6-1) had battled back from a two-run deficit to tie it at 4 on Isabelle McKinsey’s two-run home run with one out in the top of the seventh.
Sandy singled to lead off the bottom of the frame, took second on a passed ball and advanced to third on Makenzie Earp’s sacrifice bunt.
After the Tribe’s Corinne Lalama reached on a fielder’s choice off a bunt and took second on defensive indifference, Sandy came home when a pitch got away from the catcher for the second time in the inning.
“We got the base hit and tried to put a little pressure on them,” Snider said. “That’s the name of the game. We had to manufacture a run and we ended up doing so. It puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher, the catcher and all the infielders. We kind of took advantage of that.”
Bridgeport (8-0) trailed for the majority of the contest after allowing the Irish to score twice in the second inning.
Kira Riffle, who struck out the side in the bottom of the first, led off the second with a solid single to left. Emma McKeen followed with a single and Elizabeth Renzelli drove in courtesy runner Evelyn Jones with a single to right. Later in the inning, Amelia Angotti drove in McKeen with a single to second.
The Indians loaded the bases in the second, but Riffle struck out Laiken Cook to end the frame — her sixth punchout of the contest to that point.
“I tell her every day she’s as good as it gets in the circle,” Irish coach D.J. Byrd said.
A bunt single by Lalama in the fourth enabled Lauren Riffle to score the Tribe’s first run, but Riffle struck out Paige Humble to strand the bases loaded.
Leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth, the Irish had a golden opportunity to add to their advantage when Kira Riffle stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. But BHS pitcher Starr Pope induced a ground ball to shortstop Emily Riggs, who stepped on third base to keep her team’s deficit at one run.
Riggs then ignited a key fifth-inning rally with a one-out double. After Kate Stanley drew a base-on-balls, Bridgeport got even when Lauren Riffle singled home Riggs.
Sandy’s groundout to third in the next at bat allowed courtesy runner Makenna Smith to score the go-ahead run, and Lauren Riffle touched the plate on a wild pitch to double the Bridgeport advantage.
“I’m real proud of the girls. We haven’t been in many pressing games yet,” Snider said. “We had a nice game with Weir and that was a character builder and this one as well was a good one for us.
“This is only the second game we’ve gone seven innings. We need a couple of those games to get us tournament ready.”
The game stayed that way until McKinsey tied it on one swing — belting an offering from Pope to pull the Irish even after they were down to their final two outs.
“It was an exciting game. I’m proud of them,” Byrd said. “We could have hung our heads after that fifth inning, but they didn’t. They battled, and some days it falls your way and other days it doesn’t.”
Pope struck out eight, walked one and scattered nine hits in the complete game victory.
Kira Riffle allowed eight hits and issued four base-on-balls, while striking out 12 in defeat.