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Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - Heading into Thursday's clash with Owego, Tioga had scored 16 or more runs in four straight games. This time, the Tigers would only score five.

That would be enough, however, as Tioga rode a four-run burst to a 5-4 non-league victory over the Indians here, extending its win streak to five games.

"We had a nice talk the other day about what we needed to do with the team and some places we needed to improve, and I think tonight we really showed what we're capable of," Tioga coach Heather Klossner said.

In the top of the third inning, the Tigers took advantage of a lead-off walk to Julia Bellis and one-out singles by Abby Foley, Kindra Wessels and Mykenzie Thetga to grab a 2-0 lead with Thetga's hard ground ball between first and second scoring both runs.

Wessels made it 3-0, scoring on a fielder's choice, and when the second baseman dropped the flip from the shortstop, courtesy runner Emily Sindoni raced home to make it a 4-0 game.

"We actually talked about that tonight after the game got over," Owego coach Brent Doane said. "We're a young team and it sometimes feels like we're building the airplane while we fly it. We're kind of learning on the run and with five games in a row it's hard to kind of fix or correct in between games without practices, so we're trying to do that pregame, which is hard.

"That third inning was a tough inning ... but we're learning. We're learning the game moves quickly, the game changes quickly and we need to be on top of the game from start to finish. It can't be a couple innings here and a couple innings there. We're getting there."

"Our bats have been great. We've really been hitting the ball hard and well, top-to-bottom of the order, but there were some other things we wanted to work on," Klossner said. "This was a big win. We'll take all the points we can get (for sectional seeding).

"I feel like top-to-bottom in the order, it really doesn't matter where we are, we have the capability of putting runs together, hits back to back. So far, it's worked out well."

The Indians, who put three runners on base in the first two innings, would get a run back in their half of the third. Taylor Dalton walked and stole second, then scored on Emma Howe's hit to left. After a walk to Jordan Greeno, Wessels notched her fourth strikeout of the game to get out of the inning.

Felicia Lantz doubled in the top of the fourth, but was thrown out stealing home, but a lead-off single by the Indians' Sarah Terry in the bottom of the inning went for naught.

Tioga would tack on another run in the fifth when Thetga crushed a pitch down the first base line. As the ball tailed away the right fielder stumbled and Thetga motored her way around the bases for a triple. Courtesy runner Sindoni dashed home on a passed ball to make it a 5-1 game.

Howe singled to left, Gilbert legged out an infield singled, and Greeno hit a bloop single to shallow left center to load the bases in the Owego half of the fifth. Carly Kirtland brought home run when she was hit by a pitch and Terry delivered a sacrifice fly to right to close the gap to 5-3.

"I love our team's energy. I love their enthusiasm," Doane said. "They're learning to become really good teammates in supporting each other, helping each other, and trying to rally around positive things, which is really exciting and great.

"Again, we're a young team, so if we can establish that and carry it forward, it's going to be really good stuff in our future."

One area was at second base, where the Tigers had to fill the void left by an injury to Molly Bombard. Gabby Foley stepped in and had three putouts in three chances against Owego.

"Gabby into second base for Molly, I felt like she looked more comfortable today," Klossner said. "Everybody looked more in-sync and in rhythm, so it's good."

Lantz and Olivia Ayres singled in the Tioga sixth and were left stranded, but the Indians were unable to take advantage as they failed to get a ball out of the infield in their half of the inning.

The Tigers stranded two more runners in the seventh after Austyn Vance was hit by a pitch and Alissa Hine singled.

The Indians' last-chance rally attempt came up short, however. Howe smacked a triple a to right and Gilbert, their top hitter, drew a base on balls. Greeno grounded into a fielder's choice to plate Howe, but courtesy runner Natalie Donovan was thrown out at third. Kirtland drilled a shot down the third base line which went in the book as an error, but Wessels ended the game, fielding a pop-up before fanning the final batter.

"She did a good job keeping her cool," Klossner said. "We've had a lot of games where we've had to battle back or it's been close, but they don't give up. She doesn't give up. They stay in it. Win or lose, we stay in it."

"She throws a lot of strikes," Doane said. "She pounds the zone. She keeps kids off balance, moving the ball in and out, and up and down. She did a nice job against us, kept us off balance for sure. It wasn't until the later innings, I think we finally started to get our rhythm going, but by that point there was really a lot of pressure on us to try and put everything together back-to-back-to-back."

Wessels surrendered two earned runs on eight hits and three walks. She struck out seven.

"Defensively, we've had a few little hiccups here and there that we needed to work on," Klossner said of the two unearned runs.

Gilbert scattered 10 hits and three walks, giving up four earned runs while fanning seven.

Ayres went 3-for-4 to pace Tioga at the plate while Thetga was 2-for-3 with two RBI and her courtesy runner, Sindoni, scored twice. Lantz was also 2-for-3. Wessels and Abby Foley had one hit and one run apiece, Bellis scored a run and Hine added a hit.

Howe led the Indians' offense, going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Terry and Green each had a hit and RBI, courtesy runner Layla Etienne and Dalton scored a run apiece, Kirtland had an RBI, and Gilbert, Macy Gibson and Alex Aubel added one hit apiece.

Tioga (5-2) returns to IAC action next week, facing three teams they scored a combined 52 runs against during the past week. The Tigers are at S-VE Monday.

Owego's busy week continues with back-to-back games against Chenango Forks on the road Friday and at home Saturday. The Indians are 2-3.


IN PHOTO 1: Tioga's Mackenzie Luther. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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