The Tug Valley Lady Panthers softball club had their backs against the wall in the seventh inning and came from behind to defeat the Huntington Highlanders 5-4 in extras last Thursday night in Naugatuck.
Huntington scored the first pair of runs in the first inning as Amillia Howard crushed a home run ball over the fence in center field to put them ahead 2-0. Tug threatened to score in the next half inning by loading the bases with one out, but they left the runners stranded.
The Lady Highlanders padded their lead in the third frame as Caelin Marcum plated Jayla Bias-Smith on a bunt hit, making it a 3-0 ballgame. That put runners on second and third with one out for Huntington, and then Howard scored Lexi Black on an RBI groundout to extend Huntington’s lead to 4-0.
The home team cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Emily Hatfield led off the inning with a triple, and then she would score on a fielder’s choice from Kassidy Copley to put Valley on the board at 4-1.
The score remained the same, until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Lady Panthers played comeback. Down to their final two outs, Haleigh Muncy hit a ground ball and reached on an error by Huntington and then Copley notched a pop-up single.
Kinna Justice followed that up with a base hit to score Muncy, pulling Tug Valley closer at 4-2. Justice stole second base and then Alyssa Newsome grounded out and scored Copley while sending Justice to third, making it a one run game at 4-3.
Down to their final out, Tug Valley showed a flair for the dramatic and tied things up at 4-4 as Mckynnli Farley reached first base on a passed ball by the Highlanders which scored Justice.
After Huntington failed to score in the top of the eighth, Cassidy Griffey singled to lead off the inning. Hatfield then sent a line drive double to left field, scoring Griffey and giving the Panthers a 5-4 walk off win.
Autumn Hall started at pitcher for Tug Valley, pitching all eight innings and striking out 10 batters, while giving up two earned runs.
Hall, Hatfield and Copley each hit safely twice on the evening for the Cats, with the last two driving in a run. Also adding their name to the hit column was Griffey, Justice, Newsome, Farley and Amelya Wellman. Newsome and Justice drove in two of Tug Valley’s four runs on the night.
Head coach Rocky Hall was elated to get such a victory.
“It was awesome,” said Hall. “The fact that they stepped up after that previous inning and did what they needed to do with that part of the lineup, we were in a good part of the lineup. That worked out for us really well.”
The win bodes well for Tug Valley going forward and speaks volumes about the heart and fight of Hall’s players, especially with Sectional Tournament play starting next week.
“It does speak volumes,” said Hall. “We’ve played a really hard schedule trying to get ready for our section. We’re fortunate to come out with a win here. Hopefully this gets them to where they need to be.”
The Panthers were scheduled to hit the road and face Chapmanville the following evening, but the game was canceled due to inclement weather. As a result, Tug Valley’s regular season is now concluded. They are set to host the Class A Sectional Tournament and their first game is scheduled for Tuesday.