ELMA — Thanks to two big Elma innings in the opening game and a monumental Montesano comeback in the second, the Evergreen 1A League softball race will go down to the wire.
Regan Wollen hit a three-run home run as the Eagles retained the league lead with an 8-1 victory over the Bulldogs in the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Eagle Field.
The Bulldogs, however, rallied from an 8-0 deficit to keep their title hopes alive with a 10-8 win in the nightcap.
The split kept Elma (11-1, 14-2) one game ahead of Monte (10-2, 12-3) and two games in front of defending champion Onalaska entering next week’s league finales.
The Eagles host Onalaska in a doubleheader Monday. The Bulldogs are scheduled to visit Rochester Tuesday and entertain the Warriors on Wednesday.
Bulldogs 10, Eagles 8
Wollen’s second three-run homer of the day highlighted a seven-run first inning in the nightcap in which Elma sent 11 batters to the plate. Brooke Goldsmith singled twice in the inning.
When Wollen walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-0 in the second, the Eagles appeared poised for a comfortable sweep — if not a mercy-rule triumph.
After getting three runs back in the second, however, the Bulldogs moved in front to stay with a six-run third in which their first seven batters of the inning reached base.
Consecutive singles by Charlee Jo Ackley and Staci Schneider finished starting pitcher Ashley Cooper and brought Goldsmith, the opening-game winner, back to the circle.
A walk, a couple of errors and two fielder’s choice grounders later, it was 8-6. Then Lyndsy Quinn, who came off the bench to contribute three hits, stroked a two-run single up the middle to tie it.
After Courtney Swan sacrificed, Bobbi Fry beat out an infield hit to bring in Carli Cairone from third with the go-ahead run.
Schneider, who had been knocked out of the pitching circle after 3 1/3 innings of the opener, rebounded by working 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the nightcap.
The Eagles nearly tied it in the fifth when Jodi Shumate lofted an apparent sacrifice fly to right with the bases loaded and one out. Right fielder Ackley, however, threw out the runner attempting to advance to second for a double play and the tag was ruled to have been made before Taylor Wilson crossed the plate from third.
After another Fry infield hit scored Quinn with an insurance run in Monte’s half of the fifth, Schneider set down seven of the last eight Eagles to clinch the victory.
“I think the key in the second game was we were getting our leadoff batter on in just about every inning and were able to execute our short game and put the ball in play,” Montesano coach Pat Pace said.
The Bulldogs had stranded 13 runners in the opener, but many of those rallies began with two outs.
“We were in the wrong place (a couple of times) and when we were behind, we’re not used to being there and got nervous,” Eagle coach Janene Todd said.
Goldsmith had three hits for Elma.
Eagles 8, Bulldogs 1
The Eagles utilized an exceptionally balanced attack in this contest. Their nine hits were distributed among eight players, with only Sydney Smythe collecting as many as two.
“Our girls are hitting the ball great,” Todd said. “I couldn’t ask for them to hit any better.”
The biggest blow was struck by Wollen, who blasted a drive over the left-field fence with Goldsmith and Smythe aboard in the fourth inning.
Elma was already in front 4-1 entering that inning.
The Eagles sandwiched singles by Wilson and Jodi Shumate around two walks, two errors and Wollen’s sacrifice fly in a four-run third inning.
Goldsmith allowed nine hits, but repeatedly stymied Montesano threats. She twice worked out of bases-loaded predicaments.
LeeAnn Rhoden’s RBI double produced the lone Bulldog run in the second inning.
The opening game was played in scattered showers, but the hardest rain fell between games. Nevertheless, the second contest began on schedule and was completed in dry but cool weather.
Mon 100 000 0 — 1 9 2 Elma 004 301 x — 8 9 0
Schneider, Didion (4) and Swan; Goldsmith and Wollen.
RBI: Montesano — Rhoden. Elma — Wollen 4, J. Shumate, Cristelli, Studer. Two hits: Montesano — Melton, Schneider, Choate. Elma — Smythe. Home runs: Elma — Wollen. Doubles: Montesano — Rhoden. Elma — Smythe, Studer.
Winning pitcher — Goldsmith (walked four; struck out four). Losing pitcher — Schneider (walked three; struck out two).
Elma 710 000 0 — 8 12 2 Mon 036 010 x — 10 10 2
Cooper, Goldsmith (3) and Wollen; Didion, Schneider (2) and Swan.
RBI: Elma — Wollen 3, Goldsmith, S. Shumate, Wilson 2. Montesano — Quinn 3, Fry 2, Rhoden. Three hits: Elma — Goldsmith. Montesano — Quinn. Two hits: Elma — Malmstrom, Wilson. Montesano — Fry. Home runs: Elma — Wollen. Doubles: Elma — Wilson.
Winning pitcher — Schneider (walked three; struck out one). Losing pitcher — Goldsmith (walked one; struck out none).