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SOFTBALL: ATHENS PLATES NINE RUNS IN FIFTH INNING TO BLOW OPEN PITCHER'S DUEL IN 10-0 WIN OVER TIOGA (24 PHOTOS) (2024-05-13)

Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — A pitcher’s duel for 4 1/2 innings, Athens poured nine runs across the plate in the home half of the fifth inning to close out a 10-0 five-inning win over Tioga here Monday afternoon in non-league softball action.

“It was a very solid night and just a great team effort,” said Athens coach Brian Wendela. “We hit the ball real hard for the first few innings, but Tioga made some really nice plays.

“The fifth inning was big … Maddie Hiley came up huge to clear the bases with a gap-double to pick us up yet again,” noted Wendela. “I think that’s got the momentum going.

“We loaded up the bases yet again, and Ella Coyle got another big hit clearing the bases,” Wendela continued. “I’m proud of both girls.

“We didn’t have a single strikeout as a team all game and we worked some real quality at bats all game from top to bottom of the lineup.

“Tioga has put together a solid season up in New York, and I think it shows what kind of team we have become and what we are capable of on the field,” Wendell added. “We will look to ride this momentum into district play and see if we can make some noise.”

Tioga coach Heather Klossner also looked at the game as a tune-up for the postseason.

“We were looking for a good game going into sectionals,” she said. “Athens is a strong team and we wanted to see good pitching.

“It's not always about winning or losing,” noted Klossner. “Some times it's the experience of seeing and going against good teams. We have tried all season to pick up those kind of games.

“Hopefully, we can see another before our sectional game next Tuesday,” she added.

Athens hurler junior Savannah Persun, and Tioga ace, junior Erin Luther, matched zeroes into the fifth inning, but both received help from its defense.

In the bottom of the second, junior Jules Pack ripped a one-out double down the left-field line, and sophomore Savannah Finan walked, but Tioga catcher, junior McKenzie Williams gunned down Pack trying to steal third base to take the steam out of the Wildcat rally.

In the top of the third inning, freshman Vanessa Tunnicliff belted a double to the center-field fence, but was cut down at third base by a relay from freshman center fielder Gretchan Hiley to junior shortstop Ella Coyle to sophomore third baseman Maddie Hiley for the second out.

Sophomore RaeAnne Feeko then laced a single into center field, and Williams worked a walk. Luther then hammered an 0-2 pitch, but it hook foul before flying over the left-field fence. Two players later, she popped out to Coyle to end the inning.

The Wildcats took the lead with back-to-back one-out doubles by Gretchan Hiley and Coyle to make it 1-0. Athens loaded the bases, but Luther escaped further damage.

Neither team threatened again until the bottom of the fifth.

With one out, Coyle singled into left field, Persun walked, and senior Ashlyn VanFleet hit a single into right field to load the bases. Maddie Hiley cleared the bases with a line-drive, three-run double to make it 4-0.

Athens added another run to make it 5-0 on a steal of home by Maddie Hiley, then freshman McKenna Jarvis rapped an RBI double to extend the lead to 6-0.

After a walk to sophomore Danica May loaded the bases, Coyle sliced a double to right field that drove in all three runs to push the lead to 9-0.

Persun then ended the game via the 10-run “mercy” rule with an RBI single.

Persun earned the win, scattering five hits, while striking out five and walking one in five scoreless innings.

Coyle had three hits, including a double, scored two runs, and had four RBI, while Persun doubled and singled, and drove in one run, and Pack doubled and singled, and scored one run to pace Athens’ 10-hit attack.

Maddie Hiley doubled, scored one run, and had three RBI in the win, while Jarvis doubled, scored one run, and knocked in one run, Gretchan Hiley doubled and scored one run, and VanFleet, Finan, and May each scored one run.

Tunnicliff doubled, and Feeko, and sophomores Emily Shiner and Lily Mezzatesta each added a single to account for Tioga’s four hits.

Athens, now 11-7, hosts Canton Tuesday in its regular-season finale, while Tioga falls to 15-3.

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IN PHOTO 1: Athens junior Savannah Persun. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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