Two days later and I still can’t believe the fight Pleasant Valley’s softball team put up Thursday night.
Trailing 7-0 after two innings of the District 11 Class AAAA final against Easton, the Bears rallied to finally tie the game at 8-8 in the sixth before the Red Rovers scored a run in the seventh and held off another PV charge in the bottom of the inning. Below is the column I wrote on the game that will run in Sunday’s paper.
ALLENTOWN — I had no idea what to expect, but I probably should have.
When Pleasant Valley’s softball team trailed 7-0 after Easton scored six times in the second inning of Thursday’s District 11 Class AAAA softball final, I started thinking what I was going to ask Bears coach Steve Caffrey about a tough defeat. Thirty minutes later those questions were scrapped.
By scoring four two-out runs in the third — that would be a common theme in the Bears’ comeback — not only did PV show that the game wasn’t over, but also its character.
Think about it.
Before the Bears batted for a second time they were in a huge hole. The Red Rovers had dinked, dunked and slapped their way to a 7-0 lead against Rikki Correll, who entered the game 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA (four of Easton’s seven runs were unearned). Correll had been fabulous in the postseason, tossing 12 1-3 straight scoreless innings before Easton scored once in the first (it had runners on first and second with no outs, but Correll got out of it).
The Bears had every reason to hang their heads and go quietly, except that’s not even remotely close to who they are.
I should have known that after watching Kasey Meckes and Megan Hardy, PV’s center fielder and first baseman, lead the Bears to the Mountain Valley Conference girls basketball title in the winter. Or seeing them spark PV’s against East Stroudsburg South in the MVC softball title game last month.
Meckes got it started against Easton, with a two-out walk in the third, and Hardy kept it going with an infield single (an Easton error on the play allowed Nicole Kregeloh to score the second run of the rally). A two-run double by Rachel Sisco officially made it a game again.
PV got two more back in the fourth, taking advantage of a break when the umpire ruled the Felicia Domenici swung, and not bunted as it looked, on a foul ball. Kregeloh slapped a two-run single into center to cut Easton’s lead to just one.
The Bears took another punch when the Rovers pushed the lead back to two after a pair of PV errors led to an unearned run in the fifth, but they answered back instead.
Again with two outs, PV made its charge. Kregeloh doubled in Meckes before Diane Klapatch’s single tied it all up at 8-8.
The PV crowd was roaring and the team was on Cloud 9, deservedly so, but Easton regained the lead in the seventh to put the Bears back into rally mode.
With two outs Hayli Marini, who was fantastic in relief of Correll, walked and Domenici singled to put the tying run on second. And it would have happened if Easton shortstop Sarah Rasley wasn’t playing in the hole when Meckes hit a hard ground ball right to her. Rasley flipped to third for the force out and the game was over just like that.
The Bears were extremely quiet after the game and understandably so. They came back to Pates Park, after beating Northampton 1-0 in the semifinals Tuesday, expecting to go home with gold medals. Instead, they wore silver and had to watch Easton celebrate its first district title since 1973.
It was tough to watch them, especially knowing how hard they fought back to make it a game. They were down, quiet and stunned. All the things every team is after a championship game loss.
But this was different.
After rallying for so long, it seemed like a certainty that the Bears had one more in them in the seventh. The players didn’t look terribly concerned when they came off the field for their turn to bat.
They had come back all night so why would this be any different.
Backs against the wall, PV went down swinging with everything it had. The Bears might not have won the title, but they certainly showed that they’re winners.