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Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER "" Tioga fell behind by four runs early, and never quite recovered in a 9-7 loss to Harpursville here Thursday afternoon in the semifinals of the Section IV, Class C softball playoffs.

The Lady Tigers' defense proved to be its major downfall, with seven errors, including four committed by their outfielders.

"We were off defensively today," said Tioga coach Heather Klossner. "We've had those ups and downs all season.

"I was having flashbacks to the Edison game," said Klossner, referring to 14 errors committed in a 21-3 loss to Edison. "but that's how much we've grown. In that game we were mercy-ruled, in this game we fought back and made a game of it.

"We beat ourselves today," she noted. "It's unfortunate, but we're young and most of this group hasn't been in the playoffs before."

"Of course, (Harpursville) hit the ball hard," added Klossner. "That is the most outfield defense we've had to play all season, and we didn't handle it very well."

Harpursville lead-off hitter Shyanne Stilson offered a glimpse of things to come with a triple into the left-center field gap, but Tioga ace Kindra Wessels retired the next three batters to escape the jam.

The Lady Hornets scored two runs in the second inning, and three more in the third inning to build a 5-1 lead.

Junior Giovanna Rossi led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single, and freshman Julia Bellis was hit by a pitch.

Freshman Austyn Vance flared an RBI single into centerfield to trim the deficit to 5-2. With two outs, junior Kim Tarbox ripped an RBI single to left field to make it 5-3.

Harpursville answered with two runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI double by Yasmine Warner, who ended up scoring on a throwing error on the play to extend the lead to 7-3.

Sophomore Olivia Ayres led off the home half of the fifth with a line-drive single to right field, and Rossi slammed a long home run over the left-field fence to cut the deficit to 7-5.

The Lady Tigers added key insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning to push its lead to 9-5.

In the home half of the seventh, Ayres laced a line-drive single to right field to lead off the frame. With one out, Rossi ripped a long fly ball down the left-field line that glanced off the left fielder's glove, sending Ayres to third and Rossi to second.

Bellis knocked home a run with a sacrifice fly to center field, and Vance delivered an RBI triple to right-center field to cut the Harpursville lead to 9-7, but the next batter lofted a lazy fly ball to left field to end the game.

Vance was 4-for-4 with two triples, one double, one run scored, two stolen bases, and two RBI, and Rossi homered and singled, scored three runs, and had two RBI to pace Tioga's 12-hit attack.

Ayres stoked three singles and scored two runs for the Lady Tigers, while Tarbox singled and drove in one run, junior Michaela Webb added a single, and Bellis scored one run, and drove in one run.

"We got our timing down, and hit the ball well, there were just too many errors to overcome," said Klossner.

Wessels was tagged with the loss, allowing nine runs - three earned "" on 10 hits, while striking out six and walking none in seven innings.

Harley Bunker had three hits, including two doubles and one triple, and two RBI, and Vanessa Groover singled twice, scored one run, and drove in two runs to lead Harpursville's 10-hit attack.

Tioga, without a senior on its roster, wraps up the 2019 campaign with a 13-6 record.

"This team did more than most people expected, and it's still young," said Klossner.

They're already pumped for next season, and want to work in the offseason - that's good stuff to hear," she noted.

"We're not losing anyone, we'll just be gaining more talent," added Klossner. "Some of our JV girls will give some of these girls a run for their money next year. It will make these girls work harder, and that's good."


IN PHOTO 1: Tioga junior Giovanna Rossi. ... PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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