The Chautauqua County Senior All-Star Classic softball game ended in a 7-all tie Tuesday night at Dunkirk's Promenschenkel Stadium, as the South Team's Kalishia Swoger ripped a game-tying two-run single in the bottom of the eighth, before Forestville's Alisha Szumigala - representing the North Team - stranded runners at first and second to preserve the tie.
"It was great," South head coach Sue Teets said of the game. "In an all-star game, I told my kids, 'You go out, you play hard, don't get hurt, have fun and everybody gets a chance.'"
Falconer's Meghan Chase began the inning at second base as part of the international tiebreaker rule that went into affect in the top of the eighth inning. South Most Valuable Player Marry Cersosimo of Jamestown then singled ahead of Swoger, who tied the game with her one-out single to left field.
OBSERVER?Photos by Mary Ann?Wiberg
Above, Brocton’s Brooke Kuschel (4) runs to first base as Chautauqua Lake’s Kalishia Swoger awaits the throw during Tuesday’s Chautauqua County Senior All-Star Classic softball game at Promenschenkel Stadium. Below, Pine Valley’s Laural Killock makes a catch.
"She would produce," Teets said of Swoger. "She had that home run (Tuesday) too that kind of opened things up for us. She played a heck of a game. She came to play and she knew it was her last game, so she really came through."
Szumigala then struck out Jamestown's Kaytlin Haines for the second out, before walking Clymer's Miranda Marruci to put runners on first and second. The Lady Hornet senior worked out of further trouble by getting Jamestown's Madeline Pinciaro looking to end the game.
"I don't think so," Hazelton said, when asked if Szumigala was upset that she could not preserve the win for the North. "I think she was just excited to be here and I thought she pitched well and they had some great hitters on that team. She had fun."
The North had taken the lead in the top of the eighth after Pine Valley's Kayla Mansfield, who was named her team's MVP, hit a two-run, home run to right field for a 7-5 lead.
"No," Hazleton said when asked if there was any doubt she would be sending Mansfield home on her go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth. "She's so quick and it was so deep, that I knew right away that she would just keep going and she made it home."
The South got on the board first, as Cersosimo chased home Chautauqua Lake's Ashley Moulton with an RBI single in the bottom of the second inning.
"She had some key hits," Teets said. "Cersosimo was the catalyst on our team. She was the ring leader and as far as her pitching went, I was very pleased. She pitched out of some tough spots and got us back in the game when she needed to."
Then, in the bottom of the third, the South increased its lead, 3-0, as Swoger homered and Chautauqua Lake's Ashley Giddy plated Haines with an RBI single.
"It was great," Teets said of the chemistry on the South team. "They began practice (Monday) night by introducing themselves, talking about their futures, how their seasons went, so that really meant a lot to me. And in the practice time, they did everything I asked them to do and had a lot of motivation behind it."
The South's lead did not last too long, however, as the North pushed ahead in the top of the fifth inning, due in large part to the hitting of Pine Valley's representatives.
"It was wonderful to have so many talented athletes, and they were all great girls and they all got along," Hazelton said. "I pretty much just sat back and let them play."
Dunkirk's Aimee Kaufmann singled off Clymer's Breanna Summers to start the top of the fifth frame for the North, before Kaufman's Lady Marauder teammate, Selena Ruiz, popped out to second base for the first out. Then, Szumigala reached on an error to set up Lady Panthers Mansfield, Cassie Tingue, Aleah Fancher and Aaren Waterman, who all delivered RBI singles to give the North its first lead of the night.
"(Tuesday) I was thinking this was going to be to my advantage," Hazleton said of having the heart of the Pine Valley batting order on her team. "Usually when they come up, I'm thinking that we just need to get through these three, four (and) five hitters. And (Tuesday) I was excited that they were on my side and they did come through again."
Southwestern's Britta Johnson, who worked the third and fourth innings in the circle for the South, returned to the rubber in relief of Summers, getting a pair of force outs to end the inning.
"We just met (Monday) for the first time," Hazleton said. "We practiced a little bit, but like I said, they're all just such great athletes that it was easy for them to mesh and work together and play a wonderful game (Tuesday)."
The North had opportunities to increase its lead in the top of the sixth, but both Westfield's Rachel Allen and Silver Creek's Mary Jo Pearl were thrown out at the plate.
"They were just some weird plays," Hazleton said. "And we were trying to make something happen and it just didn't work out. But I knew that they could come back. They were hitting the ball well and I knew we would score some more."
In the bottom of the sixth, the South's Emily Hair tied the score with a two-run home run to right-center field, helping to send the game in to extra innings, as neither team was able to score in the seventh inning.
"That was awesome," Teets said of Hair's home run to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. "Her speed on the basepaths ... It was just a great time."
Cersosimo finished the game allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six and walking none. She also went 3 for 3 with an RBI at the plate while Swoger finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs. Also for the South, Hair was 3 for 3, including a triple, while finishing with a pair of RBIs on her game-tying home run in the bottom of the sixth.
"It's hard to pick an MVP," Teets laughed. "There were three of them in my eyes."
For the North, Mansfield was 3 for 3 with three RBIs, Tingue was 2 for 3 with an RBI while Silver Creek's Ally Harford doubled and went two innings in the circle, allowing an unearned run on two hits while striking out one.
"I had four pitchers I think and I thought they all did a great job," Hazelton said. "They were hitting their spots and trying to keep those better hitters in check. And they did a good job with it."
Also toeing the rubber for the North were Kaufman (two innings, two runs, five hits, two strikeouts), Brocton's Jess Putcher (two innings, two runs, three hits, one strikeout, one walk) and Szumigala.
However, games like this are often more about what happens off the field than on it, as players from different areas of the county came together, with most meeting each other for the first time.
"I truly enjoyed each and every one of them," Teets said. "And I appreciate the coaches that came, the fans and the parents that supported it. It was a great season, a great time and thanks to Tim (Cowan) and every one that helped put it together."