Morristown)- Trailing 10-4 entering the final inning the Lake Region Lady Rangers epitomized the ole’ saying “never say die,” plating 5 runs to make the score 10-9, and had the tying run on second base before finally succumbing to defending state champion Peoples Academy on Tuesday.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been quite so happy after a loss,” quipped Ranger coach Matt Tinker. “These girls just wouldn’t give up, and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort they gave.”
A pair of untimely Ranger errors helped Peoples push across 5 unearned runs in the 2nd inning to open a 5-0 lead. Three more runs in the 3rd, highlighted by the Wolves’ Jamie Strek’s 3-run homer, put the home squad ahead 8-0. But the Ranger bats slowly started heating up, and pushed across a pair of tallies in the 4th behind hits from Alyssa Royer, Sarah Burnham and Callie Cashin to make the score 8-2.
The Wolves added a run in their half of the 5th to increase the lead to 9-2. Down to their last six outs, the Ranger bats came to life. Three doubles by Steph Merchant, Cashin, and Kayla Royer accounted for two more runs to make it 9-4.
Hannah Leroux came in to relieve Michelle Thibeault in the bottom of the 6th, and after Peoples scored one more to make it 10-4, Burnham snagged a hard shot and turned it into a double play to send the game to the 7th and final frame.
The first five Rangers of the inning all scored, as the ladies in blue refused to wilt. Sabrina Roberge led off with her second hit of the game, followed by the ridiculously red-hot Alyssa Royer who smacked her second double and fourth hit of the game to put runners on second and third. Burnham worked a walk to load the bags, and Merchant and Cashin inched the score to 10-7 with base knocks. Whitney Poginy would battle a 2-strike count for an eventual 2-run single to bring the score to 10-9, but People's ace Strek struck out the next two batters and preserved the scintillating victory.
“The girls showed a lot of heart today. Peoples is always a tough team to beat, especially on their field. We could have given up after falling behind early, but the girls fought back. Alyssa is just playing at an unreal level right now. Callie made a super catch in the outfield to save a couple runs. We had 5 doubles today and out-hit them 16-11, so yeah we lost, but I couldn’t be happier with the effort,” added Tinker.
Alyssa Royer paced the Ranger attack with a 4-for-4 afternoon, while Kayla Royer added 3 hits and Cashin, Merchant and Roberge each added two apiece. Strek picked up the win for Peoples, striking out 7, while Thibeault was the hard luck loser, striking out three.
The Rangers travel to Danville Thursday looking to avenge a 3-1 loss from last week