By Garth Shanklin
Last season, under first-year head coach Craig Black, the Bethel-Tate Lady Tigers advanced to the sectional final, where they fell to Clermont Northeastern. A week after the regular season began, the Lady Tigers welcomed the Lady Rockets to Bethel for the first time since that game.
Unfortunately for Bethel-Tate, the result was the same. Clermont Northeastern defeated the Lady Tigers 9-3 on Thursday, April 5, temporarily evening the squad’s record at 1-1 on the season.
CNE scored twice in the first inning. Skyler Shircliff led off the frame by being hit with a pitch. She stole second and moved to third on a groundout by Kylie Mosbacker. Kylie Dollenmeyer singled, bringing home Shircliff.
Three wild pitches brought home Dollenmeyer to make it 2-0.
The Lady Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the second. Gracie Smith singled, then moved to second on a single by Carynne Cooper. Hannah Krieger loads the bases on an error by Patsy Valenti behind the plate, and one pitch later Smith scores on a wild pitch. A popout and groundout end the inning with no further damage.
CNE got that run back in their half of the third. Mosbacker hit a one-out single, then moved to second on an error. Halee Brown singles one batter later to bring in Mosbacker.
Bethel-Tate responded with a run in the bottom of the frame. Ally Stolz reached on a dropped third strike. Tanner Brandenburg drew a walk, and both runners advanced on a groundout. Another groundout scores Stolz, but a popup strands Brandenburg at third.
Neither team scored in the fourth, but CNE tallied a pair in the fifth with two outs. Mickalya Drewry walked, and Brown doubles, sending a courtesy runner Kylie Hoerth to third. Valenti singled in both runners one batter later for a 5-2 lead.
More runs came for CNE in the sixth. Hoerth walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild one for a 6-2 lead.
Alyssa Williams drew a walk, as did Shircliff. Mosbacker singles to center field, scoring Williams. Both runners score on a double by Dollenmeyer for a 9-2 lead.
Bethel-Tate’s last run came in the sixth. Taylor Harness singled into right field, moved to second on a groundout and third on a flyout. She scored on a wild pitch right before the inning ended.
Bethel-Tate put two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t bring them home. That was a theme for the team last season, according to Black.
“We didn’t beat ourselves with errors, which is a big improvement from last year,” Black said. “It’s the same thing as last year, we’re not getting the hits we need. We had runners in scoring position and we’re not hitting the ball or we’re hitting it right at people and they’re making the plays. We’re a young team, we’re physically gifted but we have to work on our mental toughness. We’ll get there.”
White led Bethel-Tate with two base hits in four at-bats. She also scored a run. Kreiger took the loss, alowing seven hits and seven walks. She yielded eight earned runs and struck out six. While the stat line may not show it, Black thought she performed well.
“I think she did a good job,” Black said. “She started a little rough, but she made them hit the ball. That’s what we ask of our pitchers, don’t give them walks. Don’t give them hit batsmen. Make them put the ball in play and give us an opportunity to make the plays, and she did a good job. She’s only a sophomore, she’s going to get better.”
Meanwhile, CNE head coach Terri Hoerth liked what she saw from a squad with little on-field time this season due to weather.
“They exceeded my expectations,” Hoerth said. “We weren’t really sure, we’ve been in a gym every day for the last two weeks and you can’t really do much. They were frustrated because of it, but they persevered. I’m proud of them.”
Both teams return to action April 13. Bethel-Tate hosts Williamsburg, while CNE is at Felicity.