IAC / NTL SOFTBALL: WAVERLY NIPS ATHENS IN 8-INNING DUEL (24 PHOTOS)
(2019-04-13)RIVAL PITCHERS COMBINE FOR 27 KsBY TIM TAYLORValley Sports Report
WAVERLY - It was all it was built up to be - a duel between two of the area's top pitchers. When all was said and done, Wendi Hammond and the Waverly Wolverines had edged out Megan Bennett and the Athens Wildcats, 2-1, in eight innings here Saturday.
The duo racked up 14 and 13 strikeouts, respectively, and not a single walk was issued in the process.
Both pitchers were coming off stellar performances - Hammond threw a perfect game Friday and Bennett tossed a no-hitter Thursday. The Wildcats' run was the first earned run allowed by Hammond this season and Waverly's first run was the first given up by Bennett in 24 innings.
"It was a very good game," Waverly head coach Brian Wendela said. "It was almost as advertised. We knew it was going to be a good game. We were hoping it was going to be a good game. Athens came and they brought another "˜A' game. We were hoping just to match them every time."
"Like I was telling Brian after the game, I think if we played 10 times, he'd win five times, I'd win five times," Farrell said. "We're both balanced teams. He's got great pitching. I've got great pitching."
In the end, the game-winning RBI was recorded by a player from the middle of Waverly's batting order. With two away, Adrianah Clinton lifted a low fly ball down the left field line, dropping it in just a few feet out of the fielder's reach to plate Riley Hall and start a celebration.
"That's what we're looking for," Wendela said. "Every day, if you hear me on the sidelines, it will be challenging that middle part of the line-up, challenging the bottom part of the line-up. And we talk about it. Good teams score runs, they find runs from different (spots in the) line-ups. It doesn't have to be the Wendi Hammonds and the Riley Halls every day, and we're proud of that. We gave Adrianah Clinton a chance today and she showed up big. She had a couple big hits for us and the biggest one when it counted most."
"They made the play when they needed to. They made the hit when they needed the hit," Farrell added.
Hall had reached on a line-drive double to center, the ball scooting across the grass underneath the fielder's glove. The next batter, Paige Lewis, would move Hall over to third on a groundout to second, setting the stage for the victory.
Waverly put runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but came away empty on each opportunity. Hali Jenner doubled with one down in the first, Hammond singled and stole second with two gone in the second and Lewis singled in the third and advanced to second.
Meanwhile, Hammond retired 11 consecutive batters to begin the game, eight by strikeout. Finally, with two out in the top of the fourth, Emma Repsher singled and Mimi Martin followed with a double, but Hammond fanned the next batter to end the threat.
Athens broke the ice in the sixth as Bennett singled and stole second, then scored on Repsher's base hit and an error by the center fielder.
However, it wouldn't take Waverly long to respond as Hammond led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Moments later she stole second and moved to third on Hall's sacrifice fly. Lewis singled her home to knot the score.
Lewis appeared to score the go-ahead run on a throwing error following Clinton's ground ball, but the umpire sent her back to third, ruling she had not gained second base before the Athens defender had released the throw to first base, therefore, she could only advance to third.
Leah Reid singled with two out in the eighth, but Hammond scooped up a ground ball from the next batter.
While it was a heartbreaking setback for the Wildcats, it was good preparation for the road ahead. And keeping the team's confidence up after a tough loss like this won't be a problem, according to Farrell.
"I don't have to worry about that. They're upbeat all the time," he said. "We're using this as a springboard for districts. This is what we needed. We go back to business Monday night when we play Wellsboro.
"Wellsboro's near the top of the league with us, and so they understand, this is a rival game of course, and it's a big game, but Monday night's bigger. We told them before the game this is going to get us ready for districts. I didn't care if we won or lost this game. I just wanted them to play hard and leave it on the field, which they did."
Athens will get more out of this tightly-contested loss than it would from beating a sub-par team by double digits, a fact Farrell understands well.
"That's what Brian and I both talked about," he said said. "We're going to scrimmage each other later on in the year, just because we know that we bring the best out of each of us. I'd rather play against teams like this than play against teams where we win 24-0."
Wendela knows where Farrell is coming from.
"A couple weekends ago we went up to Herkimer and played the same style ball game, and happened to be on the other side of it, 2-1 ball game," he said. "So, we've been talking. If we do the little things the right way, good things are going to happen. If we stay focused good things will happen. Got to be happy with the outcomes moving forward."
Hammond, Lewis and Clinton had two hits apiece for the Wolverines, and Jenner, Hall and Morgan Lee added one each.
Repsher had two of Athens' hits while Reid, Bennett and Martin added one apiece.
"I was happy with the way we were aggressive at the plate," Farrell said. "She (Hammond) is good."
Waverly improves to 8-1 with the win while Athens slips to 4-1.
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly's Morgan Lee. ... PHOTOS 1-23 BY TIM TAYLOR. PHOTO 24 BY TIM BIRNEY.
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