Softball: Raider rally falls short

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WALES — With comeback wins against Leavitt and Camden, the rallying Raiders from Oak Hill hoped for some more late-inning magic Friday.

After an early three-run deficit, the Raiders cut the lead down to one against unbeaten Medomak Valley, but that’s where the comeback ended. The Panthers held off Oak Hill’s rally for a 3-2 win.

“Our team is resilient enough to comeback, and we’ve shown that this year,” said Oak Hill coach Julie Boucher. “We have confidence even when we’re down 3-0. We’ve won two games in the bottom of the seventh inning already this year. So we knew we weren’t done. We didn’t roll over and die. We kept it up.”

Despite getting two runs in the sixth to make it 3-2, the Raiders couldn’t get something going in the seventh. Panther pitcher Desiree Benner got three straight outs and a nice running catch by Ericka Christensen at first to end the game.

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Benner finished with a three-hitter and struck out eight. Taylor Fillion, Kortni Michaud and Becca Tucci had the only hits for Oak Hill (6-3).

“At first, I was throwing really high,” said Benner. “I knew I had to settle down. I knew my team would back me up if I messed up. I just tried to let them hit the ball and hope the defense held up.”

Benner got solid defense behind her including a nice backhanded catch in the outfield by Heidi Obuchon.  Prior to the rally in the sixth, the Raiders had just one inning in which they put two runners on. Marrissa Caskin walked and Tucci singled in the second, but a flyout by Alexis Priest was turned into a double play that ended the inning.

“We did have some nice hits — not consecutively,” said Boucher, whose team was ranked fifth in the latest Western B standings. “They were just playing us very well and making the plays. We had some hard hit balls. Against any other team, they might have been extra base hits. They made some plays and were solid defensively.”

Helping the Panthers cause were the early runs. Medomak Valley took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kasey Benner tripled in a run. Then in the second, Vanessa Davis had a double that plated two. Davis finished with three hits for the Panthers (9-0). Medomak Valley was ranked first in Eastern B.

“With an undefeated team and being down 3-0, you feel the pressure,” said Boucher. “You try to be aggressive at the plate and are not as patient as you usually are.”

Benner kept Oak Hill at bay for much of the game. She had the Raiders chasing high pitches. If they weren’t swinging and missing, they were popping out.

“When we get the first out and there’s no base runners on, I tend to pitch better,” said Benner.

The Raiders made some noise in the sixth. Fillion singled and Lauren Hall walked. Michaud singled and had her hit misplayed in the outfield, allowing both runners to score. Benner got a strike out to end the inning and strand Michaud at second.

“You have to find a way through them if you’re playing a team that’s solid defensively,” said Boucher. “They had a couple nice hits, and that was key for them.”

kmills@sunjournal.com

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